New figures from Statistics Canada show a drop in average tuition paid by undergraduate and graduate students, by the figures require context. (Facebook/University of Victoria)

New figures show average tutition fees dropping in Canada

But the global picture fails to capture significant differences between provinces, programs

Canadian students entering Canadian post-secondary schools for both undergraduate degrees and graduate degrees pay less than last year.

Figures from Statistics Canada show the average tuition for full time Canadian undergraduate students average $6,463 in 2019/2020, down 5.3 per cent from the previous year. The average annual cost of graduate programs is $7,056 — a drop of 4.5 per cent.

But these figures require context. As the agency notes in its accompanying analysis, average tuition fees “do not necessarily reflect the actual cost that students pay for their degree programs” because of additional sources of financial support (such as scholarships). Living costs must also be included. The term average tuition fee also requires context, as average tuition fees reflect both the variety of degree programs offered by institutions and the proportion of students enrolled in these programs.

RELATED: Professional degrees cost the most, but bring in the highest salaries: Stats Canada

“As a result, even if there are no changes in specific program tuition fees, the average tuition could change if new programs are added or if the distribution of students across programs changes,” it reads.

Average tuition fees also vary across provinces and by degree type.

Almost 60 per cent of Canadian undergraduate students enrol in one of four fields: social and behavioural sciences and legal studies (not including law); business, management and public administration; physical and life sciences and technologies; and the humanities. Those degrees can be — note the conditional — relatively cheap, depending on where students pursue them.

Not including law, undergraduate degrees in social and behavioural sciences as legal studies, the average undergraduate tuition fee for full-time Canadian students was $5,544, with fees ranging from $2,709 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $7,420 in Nova Scotia.

By comparison, undergraduate tuition fees in business, management and public administration average $6,827. Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,759) posted the lowest fees, while Ontario ($9,503) recorded the highest.

The difference becomes even more stark when looking at graduate degrees.

Average tuition for an executive Master of Business Administration was $56,328 in 2019/2020, while the fee for a regular MBA averaged $27,397.

Consider the following: the average tuition fees for executive MBA programs ranged from $11,592 in Quebec to $91,100 in Ontario, while the average tuition fees for regular MBA programs ranged from $2,847 in Newfoundland and Labrador to $39,106 in Ontario.


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