OTTAWA (CUP) 8212; The average Canadian full-time student will pay $5,138 in tuition fees this year, a four per cent increase from last year, according to a Statistics Canada report released Sept. 16.
The 2010-11 increase is up from the 3.6 per cent spike in 2009-10 and is higher than the 1.8 per cent rate of inflation calculated by the Consumer Price Index between July 2009 and July 2010.
“There’s no surprise that tuition has risen in this country; since cuts in the ’90s, tuition has been rising,” said Zach Dayler, national director for the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. “We’ve been saying since the ’90s that this can’t happen, we need to invest in education.”
The highest average undergraduate tuition and the largest increase in fees were found in Ontario, at a $6,307 price tag 8212; an increase of 5.4 per cent from 2009-10. Ontario graduate students also saw the biggest spike in fees compared to the rest of the country 8212; their tuition went up 10.6 per cent for an average of $6,917.
While students in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick benefited from decreases in their grad school tuition, Canadian graduate students on the whole witnessed a more significant increase compared to their undergraduate colleagues as average fees went up 6.6 per cent this academic year.
“This report magnifies the need to better support grad students in Canada,” said Dayler, noting that CASA supports offering more needs-based grants to students of all levels.
Dave Molenhuis, national chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students, also supports the idea of greater non-repayable assistance and pointed out that the federal government currently does not offer grants to graduate students through its Canada Student Grants Program.
“Our feelings are that we’ve seen this record level of student debt and despite that students and families are saddled with mortgage-sized debt loads, tuition fees continue to rise and we continue to move in a direction where the public post-secondary education system is more and more reliant on private sources of funding,” he said.
Molenhuis added that the CFS is rolling out their Education is a Right campaign on campuses across the country this fall to bring to light the need for a post-secondary education act to set “standards of quality, access and guaranteed funding.”
“Until we get to that point 8212; and it’s well within the reach of the federal government to do so 8212; we’ll continue to move in this direction of higher tuition and higher student debt,” he said.
CASA suggested in their Sept. 16 press release response to the survey that the federal government should increase post-secondary education funding to $4 billion per year.
“That number comes from what we think the education deficit is in terms of funding that the system needs,” said Dayler, referring to dedicated post-secondary education funds in the Canada Social Transfer. According to the Department of Finance, the government transferred $3.3 billion to the provinces for post-secondary education in 2009-10.
Dayler also pointed out that transfer payments are up for negotiation in 2014 and that CASA would like to see a more direct transfer of funds from Ottawa to the provinces.
Both CASA and the CFS are planning to lobby federal politicians on Parliament Hill this fall.
The survey also found that international students studying in Canada are paying on average 5.2 per cent more in tuition this year, and that full-time undergraduate compulsory fees 8212; for athletics, activities and student unions 8212; increased by 7 per cent from last year’s $656 average.
Maritime undergraduates proved to be some of the luckiest students in the country, as tuition fees remained the same in Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick. Nova Scotia students benefited from a 4.5 per cent decrease in tuition from the last academic year, paying on average only about $5,495 this fall.
StatsCan normally publishes a consistent university tuition fees report every fall, but this year, they altered their methods slightly to exclude MBA tuition from the average calculations. The agency explained in a Sept. 15 advance notice that the decision was made “in order to eliminate the impact of the high cost of these programs on the overall tuition fee average.”