Undergraduate tuition fees have risen at more than triple the rate of inflation in the past year according to a new report by Statistics Canada.
Undergraduate tuition is up 5.0 per cent from last year nationwide and up 5.4 per cent in Ontario. Graduate tuition has increased at a slower rate of 4.5 per cent, up from a 3.7 rate last year.
The inflation rate from July 2011 to 2012 is 1.3 per cent as measured by the Consumer Price Index.
According to the Stats Can report, full-time undergraduate students in Canada are paying $5,581 in tuition fees on average compared to $5,313 last year. Undergraduates in Ontario are charged the most – $7,180 on average.
Peter Smith, Associate Vice-President (Academic), said McMaster’s overall undergraduate tuition increases are just under 5 per cent this year, as per 2012/2013 provincial guidelines.
The guidelines stipulated that first year tuition for professional programs could increase by up to 8 per cent. First year non-professional programs were allowed to have increases of up to 4.5 per cent. Upper year tuition could increase by 4 per cent. Overall tuition increases were to be under 5 per cent.
“There’s always a trade-off,” said Smith. “You could have a zero per cent increase, but that could impact the delivery of programs at the university.”
“[In setting tuition fees] you want to strike a balance between affordability and quality of education,” he said.
Simon Gooding-Townsend, one of three student representatives on the university tuition fee committee this year, said averages may not be the most accurate indicator of changes to tuition.
He noted, for example, that incoming first years in professional programs are experiencing double the rate that their upper year classmates are experiencing (8 per cent versus 4 per cent).
International students have experienced a 6 per cent increase at McMaster, with the exception of international medical students (all levels) whose tuition of $95,000 per year has stayed the same.
Compulsory fees for athletics, student health services and student organizations applicable to full-time students have increased nationally by 3.3 per cent for undergraduates and 4.9 per cent for graduate students.
Full-time undergraduate fees increased in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, where tuition has stayed the same since 2003/2004. Quebec showed the highest tuition increase at 10.1 per cent.