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CAUT 2001, University and College Affordability

CAUT 2001, University and College Affordability

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Published by Melonie A. Fullick
University and College Affordability: How and why have fees increased?
One of the most pressing and troubling issues confronting post-secondary education policymakers over the past decade has been the dramatic rise in tuition fees. Between 1990/91 and 2000/01, average undergraduate arts tuition fees across Canada rose by nearly 126%. This has understandably raised growing concerns about the ongoing accessibility of post-secondary education. Despite the visibility of this problem, however, there ha
University and College Affordability: How and why have fees increased?
One of the most pressing and troubling issues confronting post-secondary education policymakers over the past decade has been the dramatic rise in tuition fees. Between 1990/91 and 2000/01, average undergraduate arts tuition fees across Canada rose by nearly 126%. This has understandably raised growing concerns about the ongoing accessibility of post-secondary education. Despite the visibility of this problem, however, there ha

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Published by: Melonie A. Fullick on Apr 19, 2011
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O
ne of the most pressing and troublingissues confronting post-secondaryeducation policymakers over the past decadehas been the dramatic rise in tuition fees.Between 1990/91 and 2000/01, averageundergraduate arts tuition fees across Canadarose by nearly 126%. This has understandablyraised growing concerns about the ongoingaccessibility of post-secondary education.Despite the visibility of this problem,however, there has been surprisingly littleresearch done to fully explain why the costsof post-secondary education have increased.While a cursory analysis suggests thatgovernment funding cutbacks are primarilyto blame, some recent attention has focussedon the internal spending patterns ofuniversities. In particular, the salaries ofacademic staff are often singled out ascontributing to rising costs.This report
1
explores these issues byexamining how and why tuition fees haveincreased in the past decade and what impactthis is having on accessibility. What are thekey factors that have contributed to the rapidescalation of fees? What role havegovernment funding cutbacks played in thisrise in costs? Have internal universityexpenditure decisions contributed to theproblem? What are the effects of higher feesand what can policymakers do to ensuregreater access to post-secondary education?The research presented in this report showsthe following:
Overall, when measured in constantdollars and per full-time equivalentstudent, tuition and other fees paid byuniversity students rose by 64%between 1990/91 and 1998/99. Overthe same period and measured on thesame basis, university operatingrevenues from governments fell 25%.
By 1998/99, university students werepaying on average $1,587 more than in1990/91, when measured in constant1999 dollars. By contrast, universitieswere receiving $2,720 less per full-time equivalent student fromgovernment operating grantscompared to 1990/91.
University expenditures on salarieshave not been a factor in driving upuniversity costs. In fact, spending onacademic rank salaries, measured inconstant dollars and per full-timeequivalent student, was more than16% lower in 1998/99 than in 1990/91.This suggests that students today arepaying far more than previousgenerations, and are receiving less inreturn.
University and College Affordability
How and why have fees increased?
CAUT Education Review, Vol. 3, No. 2 —– 1
 
 
Access to university, as measured as aproportion of the populationattending, has to date beenmaintained despite the higher costs.However, gaps in participation ratesbetween low- and high-incomestudents are growing.
With some exceptions, much of theresponse to rising fees from bothfederal and provincial policymakershas been focussed on increasingfinancial options to help students andtheir families meet the higher prices.This response does not actually reducethe cost of a university education.
How Fees Have Increased
 
The rapid rise of university tuition feesthroughout the 1990s has been welldocumented. Across Canada, averageundergraduate arts tuition fees rose 126%between 1990/91 and 2000/01 (see table 1). Itis worth highlighting that there has beensome marked provincial variation in tuitionfee increases over this period, ranging from alow of 46% in British Columbia to a high of208% in Alberta. As further illustrated in thetable, fees rose another 3% in the most recentacademic year, although tuition remainedunchanged in Prince Edward Island andNewfoundland, and posted a decline inManitoba where the government announceda fee rollback.It is also important to note that these figuresrefer to the cost of undergraduate tuition
2 —– CAUT Education Review, Vol. 3, No. 2
Table 1: Average undergraduate arts tuition, 1990/91 to 2000/01
 
1990/91 1999/00 2000/01 90/91 to 00/01 99/00 to 00/01
(current dollars)
Canada
1,496 3,281 3,378 125.8 3.0
Newfoundland
1,344 3,300 3,300 145.5 0.0
PEI
1,840 3,480 3,480 89.1 0.0
Nova Scotia
1,943 4,101 4,408 126.9 7.5
New Brunswick
1,898 3,329 3,519 85.4 5.7
Quebec
1
902 1,868 1,898 110.4 1.6
Ontario
1,653 3,865 3,971 140.2 2.7
Manitoba
1,415 3,018 2,873 103.0 -4.8
Saskatchewan
1,526 3,164 3,304 116.6 4.4
Alberta
1,244 3,658 3,841 208.8 5.0
British Columbia
2
1,727 2,470 2,520 45.9 2.0% change
1
 
Fees for both in- and out-of-province students are included in the weighted calculation.
 
2
Fees for both public and private institutions are included in the weighted average calculation.
 
Source: Statistics Canada
 
 
only. Graduate student fees and tuitioncharged by professional schools, which aregenerally much higher, are not included.Moreover, these figures do not include otherfees that universities charge and that studentsmust pay on top of the basic cost of tuition.Combining these three sets of fees provides amore complete measure of the average full“sticker price” charged students.Using data from the Canadian Associationof Business Officers financial statistics andinformation on full-time equivalentenrolment for institutions included in theCAUBO survey, we are able to create a betterpicture of the total fees paid by students.Adjusting for inflation, we find that the coststo students increased by an average of 64%between 1990/91 and 1998/99. Again, thereare wide variations between provinces asshown in table 2. Total tuition and other feesin 1998/99 ranged from an average of $2,318in Quebec to $5,077 in Ontario. Between 1990and 1999, tuition and fees rose fastest inAlberta (114%), Prince Edward Island (104%),and Newfoundland (101%), while feesincreased more moderately in NewBrunswick (39%) and Quebec (52%).
The Causes of Higher Fees
 
a) Declining Public Funding
 Our analysis confirms that the mostsignificant cause of higher university fees isthe decline in government funding. Between1990/91 and 1998/99, university operatingrevenues from government sources declined25% in real terms, or about $2,700 per full-time equivalent student (see table 3).As illustrated in the table, by 1998/99 total
CAUT Education Review, Vol. 3, No. 2 —– 3
Table 2: University tuition and all other fees per full-time equivalent student,1990/91 to 1998/99 ($1999)
1990/91 1998/99
$1999
Quebec
1,524 2,318 52.1%
Manitoba
2,352 3,621 54.0%
New Brunswick
2,692 3,740 38.9%
Newfoundland
1,923 3,863 100.9%
Saskatchewan
2,313 3,989 72.5%
Canada
2,487 4,074 63.8%
PEI
2,068 4,223 104.2%
British Columbia
2,837 4,377 54.3%
Alberta
2,055 4,388 113.5%
Nova Scotia
2,656 5,021 89.0%
Ontario
3,241 5,077 56.7%
% change
Source: Calculations based on Canadian Association of University Business Officers, Financial Statistics of Universities; Statistics Canada
 

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