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CAUT 2002, Access Denied

CAUT 2002, Access Denied

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Published by Melonie A. Fullick

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Published by: Melonie A. Fullick on Apr 19, 2011
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ost Canadians believe that allacademically qualified students shouldhave the opportunity to earn a university or college degree. Admission to university andcollege should be based on ability and talent, notwealth.Today, however, due to record high tuitionand other fees, more and more students who areinterested in and capable of attending a universityor college are unable to do so. Following adecade of steep increases in tuition fees and slowwage growth, modest- and middle-incomehouseholds are struggling to finance the costs of higher education.In this report, we show how the ability of average households in Canada to pay for a post-secondary education has been compromised inrecent years. We compare fees charged studentstoday with those charged in previous decades toshow that the cost of tuition is less affordabletoday than at any time in the post-war period andis approaching an all-time historic high. Canada’suniversities in particular are in danger of returning to their elitist roots as costs continue tospiral out of control.The main findings of the report include:
since 1857, the most rapid and consistentrise in tuition fees took place in the1990s;
tuition and incidental fees,
 
adjusted for inflation, at a typical university in Canadaare at their highest recorded levels — andmore than six times what they were in1914;
fees for dentistry, medicine and law haverisen the most sharply in recent years, far outpacing the growth in inflation andwages;
it takes more hours of work to pay for today’s tuition fees than at any point inthe post-war period — and more thandouble that required in 1920; and
 by almost every measure, universityeducation is less affordable for middle-income households today than at anyother time in the past sixty years.Overall, the data presented in this report painta bleak picture about the ability of modest andmiddle-income households to pay for a post-secondary education. Caught between a rapidincrease in tuition fees, dwindling governmentsupport and stagnant growth in incomes, tens of thousands of qualified Canadians from modest-and middle-income families are in danger of  being denied access to a university or collegeeducation. Without immediate action, theresulting loss in human talent and potential willhave serious consequences for the country’sfuture social and economic development.
Trends in tuition fees, 1972 to 2002
Since 1972, Statistics Canada has collecteduniversity tuition fee data on a national basis.These figures, as presented in Table 1, provide a broad overview of trends over the past 30 years.As illustrated, fees, when measured in currentdollars, have increased substantially over this
 Access Denied
The affordability of post-secondary education inCanada, 1857 to 2002
CAUT Education Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 —– 1
 
 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
 declined 
  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
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
Dentistry
664 1,098 2,343 9,703 65.4 113.4 314.1
Law
536 881 1,882 5,020 64.4 113.6 166.7
Medicine
674 1,089 2,248 8,062 61.6 106.4 258.6
Engineering
620 918 1,948 3,880 48.1 112.2 99.2
Table 1: Average Tuition Fees
1
(current dollars)
 
university records and collected information ontuition and incidental fees charged for a first-year undergraduate arts program at University Collegeof the University of Toronto from 1857 to the present.The records reveal that from 1857 to 1859 nofees were charged by University College. In the21-year period between 1860 and 1881, feesremained stable at $10, a remarkable period of stability that is in sharp contrast with thecontinuous and substantial increases recorded inrecent years (see Figure 1). Tuition and incidentalfees then rose slowly and incrementally in thedecades that followed, to $22 between 1882 and1892, to $32 in the period from 1894 to 1896, andto $52 from 1897 to 1908. Surprisingly, feesdeclined to $48 between 1909 and 1913 andremained under $100 until 1925. Fees rose to$200 in 1940, $237 in 1950, $423 in 1960, $537in 1970, and $961 in 1980. As illustrated, thesignificant increases have occurred in the pasttwo decades with fees skyrocketing from $1,936in 1990 to $4,875 in 2002 — an increase of nearly 152%.Even when adjusted for inflation, fees chargedstudents at University College today are by far attheir highest levels this century. Figure 2 tracksthe real changes in fees between 1914 and 2002
CAUT Education Review, Vol. 4, No. 1 —– 3
1972$1982$1992$2002$% change72-82% change82-92% change92-02Arts
2,336 1,517 2,131 3,561 -35.1 40.5 67.1
Dentistry
2,888 1,909 2,659 9,245 -33.9 39.3 247.7
Law
2,331 1,531 2,136 4,783 -34.3 39.5 123.9
Medicine
2,931 1,812 2,551 7,681 -38.2 40.8 201.1
Engineering
2,697 1,595 2,211 3,697 -40.9 38.6 67.2
Table 2: Average Tuition Fees
1
(constant 2000 $)
 
1
Using the most current enrolment data available, average tuition fees have been weighted by the number of stu-dents. Fees at both public and private institutions have been included in the calculations.Source: Calculations based on Statistics Canada.
 
Figure 1: University College Tuition and IncidentalUndergraduate Fees, 1860-2002 (current dollars)
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010002000300040005000
   1   8   6   0   1   8   7   0   1   8   8   0   1   8   9   0   1   9   0   0   1   9   1   0   1   9  2   0   1   9   3   0   1   9  4   0   1   9   5   0   1   9   6   0   1   9   7   0   1   9   8   0   1   9   9   0  2   0   0   0  2   0   0  2
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