Tuition rates rising rapidly as tuition cap nears expiry

2.8 per cent increase across the country, Queen’s even higher

Canadian tuition costs continue to rise, according to a recent Statistics Canada (StatsCan) report. In Ontario, they’re rising faster — with Queen’s well above the national averages — and the province’s tuition cap has nearly expired. 

On Sept. 7, StatsCan released a report detailing increases in tuition as well as compulsory student fees, broken down across the provinces comparatively.

Graphics by Valentino Muiriri

According to the report, Ontario is on the higher end of tuition increases. While the country’s average tuition increased over the last year by 2.8 per cent, Ontario saw a 3.2 per cent increase for full-time undergraduate students.

New Brunswick and Nova Scotia were the only provinces with higher increases for undergraduate students, at 4.7 and 5.6 per cent respectively.

Full-time graduate students in Ontario saw a 2.62 per cent increase, and nation-wide international students a 7.7 per cent increase in their undergraduate tuition.

For Queen’s students, tuition rates are well above the national average in most areas. A significant imbalance found in the report was the cost of studying Business, Management and Public Administration.

The report details an average cost of $6,542 per year in tuition to study business as an undergraduate student. The cost of one year in the Bachelor of Commerce program at Queen’s, as of 2016, is $16,764 for a domestic student, a 60 per cent increase on the national average.

Comparatively, Western’s Ivey Business School undergraduate tuition is $6,154 for the first two years and $24,905 for the last two, averaging out to $15,529.50 per year. Laurier’s Business Administration degree costs students $8,300 per year in tuition.

In the Faculty of Arts and Science, students are facing steeper increases from last year. The reported national average tuition for Humanities is 28 per cent lower than Queen’s Arts and Sciences tuition.

The cost of one full-time year in Arts and Sciences at Queen’s is $7,502.15, whereas the average tuition for an undergraduate student nationwide is $5,482 per year.

Queen’s tuition is, however, on par with high-ranking schools like McMaster, where Arts and Science tuition comes in around $7,413.15 per year as an undergraduate.

In the Physical and Life Sciences and Technologies, Queen’s students pay over 20 per cent more than the nation-wide average. At University of Toronto, a Physical Sciences degree is less than three per cent above the national average.

Large discrepancies between national tuition cost averages and Queen’s tuition are also seen in the Faculty of Engineering. The national average annual tuition cost in 2015-16 was $7,511 for an Engineering degree. Queen’s Engineering students, on the other hand, will pay $13,476.51 domestically for the 2016-17 school year. This value is 44 per cent higher than the Canadian average for a single year.

However, despite being drastically above the national average, Queen’s engineering tuition costs are still slightly below University of Toronto, where annual tuition sits in at $13,620 per student.

The tuition raises are consistent with the last five years, which have each seen incremental jumps in the average tuition for full-time Canadian students.

In 2010-11, the average student was paying $5,146 in tuition fees. Annually, that value increased — first by 3.2 per cent, then 5.13 per cent, 3.24 per cent and 3.32 per cent.

In March 2013, as an attempt to curb the steep hikes in Ontario, the provincial government lowered the cap on increased tuition from five per cent to three per cent per year for most programs.

The altered cap was set to last four years, expiring at the end of next year. Professional and graduate programs were exempt, remaining at five per cent after years at eight per cent.

Earlier this year, the Ontario government also unveiled their free tuition plans, intended to relieve the burden of rising tuition for low-income students across the province. 

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