Canadians have most degrees, highest tuition fees: reports

CAUTbulletin.ca – News
October 2013

Student leader Jessica McCormick says tuition fees are currently the single largest expense for most college & university students & are increasing more rapidly than any other cost faced by students & faster than inflation. [Daniel Smith]
Canada tops OECD rankings of post-secondary degrees while costs to students increase.

According to a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Canada has the highest rate of post-secon­dary education among its 34 member countries. With 51 per cent of the adult population holding a university, college, or polytechnic degree in 2011, Canada is well above the international average of 32 per cent.

However, Canada trails in the amount of government funding al­located to post-secondary education, putting more of the financial burden on students. On average, Canadian provinces contribute only 57 per cent of the cost of a degree, compared to the 68 per cent ave­rage contribution among other OECD countries.

“The report should be a wake-up call,” says CAUT associate exe­cutive director David Robinson. “While Canada continues to do well in terms of the number of students who go on to university and college, there are some real questions about the long-term sustainability of students and families being asked to pay what, according to the OECD, are some of the highest tuition fees in the world.”

Statistics Canada’s latest annual report on university tuition fees says undergraduate students paid an average of $5,772 in tuition fees in 2013–2014, a 3.3 per cent increase compared with the pre­vious year.

At the same time, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives reports that tuition fees are projected to rise even higher. Their study, Degrees of Uncertainty, warns that fees could increase by 13 per cent over the next four years.

“In light of the massive debt burden already carried by most students, provinces should be reducing tui­tion fee rates, not further increasing them,” said Jessica McCormick, national chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students. “This does nothing but make the student debt crisis even worse than it already was.”

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