period. The cost of a one-year undergraduate arts program jumped from $535 in 1972 to $3,738 in2002, a nearly seven-fold increase. Fees rose evenmore substantially in professional programs suchas dentistry (+1,361%), law (+836.6%) andmedicine (+525.8%).The largest increases in professional feesoccurred over the 1992 to 2002 period. Prior tothis, fees in all programs increased at close to thesame rate, with the lone exception of engineeringwhich experienced slower increases in the 1972-82 period. In the 1990s, however, some provincesuncapped and “deregulated” professional schoolfees, allowing institutions to raise costs higher than the limits placed on undergraduate programs.The result has been a widening gap in the costs of these professional programs, raising concernsabout the ability of students from modest andmiddle-income households to attend professionalschools (see Kwong et. al. 2002).The increase in fees over this period must also be considered against changes in the Consumer Price Index. As shown in Table 2, when adjustedfor inflation, the real rate of tuition fee increaseswas steepest in the 1990s. Between 1972 and1982, average undergraduate arts tuition
by over 35%. As noted above, during this periodfees rose in current dollars, but they increased well below the rate of inflation — which often reacheddouble-digit levels in this decade characterized by“stagflation.”Beginning in the 1980s, however, fees grewfaster than inflation, pushing the real cost of artstuition up over 40% between 1982 and 1992.Despite this increase, real fees in 1992 were still9% below the level recorded in 1972. Between1992 and 2002, fees continued to accelerate far faster than the rate of inflation, posting a 67%increase in inflation-adjusted dollars.Again, the rise in real tuition fees is even more pronounced in professional programs. Tuition for dentistry programs were about 8% lower in 1992than in 1972, but jumped by a whopping 248% inthe past decade. Law school and medical schoolfees skyrocketed 124% and 201% respectively inthe same period.
The bigger picture: tuition fees, 1857 to 2002
Reliable aggregate tuition fee data for the period prior to 1972 do not exist, leaving thelonger-term picture of changes in tuition fees moredifficult to assess. Nevertheless, it is possible toglean some sense of the broader historical trends by examining changes in fees at one typicalinstitution. For this study, we consulted archival
2 —– CAUT Education Review, Vol. 4, No. 1
Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of students. Fees at both public and private institutions have been included in the calculations.Source: Calculations based on Statistics Canada.
1972$1982$1992$2002$% change72-82% change82-92% change92-02Arts
535 873 1,878 3,738 63.2 115.1 99.0
664 1,098 2,343 9,703 65.4 113.4 314.1
536 881 1,882 5,020 64.4 113.6 166.7
674 1,089 2,248 8,062 61.6 106.4 258.6
620 918 1,948 3,880 48.1 112.2 99.2
Table 1: Average Tuition Fees