Student enrolment in Canada has exploded over the past decades with full-time university enrolment going from 780,000 to more than a million students between 2005 and 2015. Undergraduate tuition has followed the same ascending curve increasing three fold from an average of $1,700 to over $7,000 in 2018. At $10,028, Ontario has the highest average tuition in the country and Newfoundland and Labrador the lowest with $2,776.
Full-time college enrolment grew from 478,707 in 2006-2007 to 532,380 in 2016-2017, a modest increase of 11% over the decade. Part-time enrolment grew more rapidly (30%) during the same period.
Full-time university enrolment grew from 799,686 in 2006-2007 to 1,027,664 in 2016-2017, an increase of 28% over the decade. Part-time enrolment grew more modestly (10%) during the same period.
University participation rates have grown considerably since the 1970s, even when taking into account factors including the effects of the economic cycle on enrolment rates and the end of Ontario Academic Credit (OAC) year in Ontario. While participation rates for all ages have grown, the highest growth rates are for the core group of younger students. From 1972 to 2016, the proportion of 19 year olds enrolled in university programs almost tripled, from a rate of 11.3% to 32.9%.
University participation rates for 18 to 24 year olds increased steadily throughout the 1990s and 2000s, from a rate of 17.7% in 1995 up to 27.6% in 2016.
University FTE enrolment increased by 67% between 1999-2000 to 2016-2017 from 665,098 to 1,111,384. College FTE enrolment increased by 35% over the same period.
In 2014-15, 72% of all community college students in Canada were at Ontario colleges (38%) and Quebec colleges (34%).
The number of full-time equivalent students enrolled in Canadian colleges grew by a modest 1.6% between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
In 2016-2017, 45% of undergraduates attended university in Ontario and 21% attended universities in Québec.
The number of full-time equivalent students enrolled in Canadian universities grew by a modest 1.4% between 2015-2016 and 2016-2017.
In 2016-2017, international students made up 12% of Bachelor’s and other undergraduate degree program FTE enrolment, but 24% of Master’s and 35% of Ph.D. programs.
International student enrolment in universities more than doubled in most provinces and regions from 2007-08 to 2016-17. Their share of the overall student population is highest at McGill University (29%), followed by University of British Columbia (23%), University of Toronto (20%) and Dalhousie University (20%), University of Alberta (18%) and University of Manitoba (18%).
Among first-year undergraduate students surveyed in 2018-2019, about 4% self-identified as aboriginal, 44% self-identified as a member of a visible minority group, and 24% of students self-identified as disabled with 14% reporting a disability linked to a mental health issue.
Women accounted for a majority of community college enrolments (55%) in 2016-2017. Women accounted for almost one out of every four students in Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences, while they represented four out of every five students in Health and related fields.
Women accounted for a majority of FTE students enrolled at the Bachelor’s and other undergraduate degrees (57%). 60% of all undergraduate enrolment was in the social sciences and humanities. Enrolments in the natural sciences and engineering comprised about one-quarter (24%).
Women accounted for the majority of students at the Master’s level (57%). They represent a minority in Architecture, Engineering and Related Technologies (30%) and a majority in Education (76%).
Women represented slightly less than half (49%) of all students at the Ph.D. level in 2015-2016. Total FTE enrolment is almost divided equally between the humanities, arts, and social sciences (51%) and science and engineering-related fields of study (49%).
In 2017, 308,247 students graduated from a university while 220,029 students graduated from a community college. 307,131 students obtained a high school diploma in a secondary school.
In 2017, 238,104 Bachelor’s and other undergraduate degrees, 61,239 Master’s, and 7,857 Doctorates were awarded in Canada. 220,074 community college certificates and diplomas were awarded.
Women accounted for the majority of students to receive a community college qualification (57%). There is a large variation by field of study, with women representing just under one out of every seven students (14%) in Architecture, Engineering and related Technologies to representing four out of every five students in Education (84%), Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness (83%), and Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Law (83%).
Women received three out of every five Bachelor’s and other undergraduate degrees in 2017. Women obtained three out of every four degrees in Education (78%) and Health, Parks, Recreation and Fitness (74%), while receiving about one out of every four degrees in Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences (26%) and about one in five in Architecture, Engineering and related Technologies (21%).
In 2017, women obtained 57% of all Master’s and other graduate degrees in Canada. Female graduates are underrepresented in several science and technology-related fields of study: Architecture, Engineering and Related Technologies (29%) and Mathematics, Computer and Information Sciences (42%). They make up just over half of graduates in the Physical and Life Sciences, and Technologies (54%).
Almost half of all doctorates (47%) was awarded in the humanities and social sciences in 2016. Women represented less than half (47%) of all Ph.D. recipients.
The average value of grants disbursed was $2,673 per Canada Student Grant recipient in 2016-2017.
Between 1990-1991 and 2016-2017, the number of full-time CSL recipients grew by 215% in Ontario, 60% in British Columbia, and 67% in Alberta, while declining by 54% in Newfoundland and Labrador, 18% in Saskatchewan, 16% in Manitoba, and 8% in New Brunswick.
In 2016-2017, 490,000 student loans were granted by the Canada Student Loan Program. 59% of CSLs were granted to university students, while 32% went to public community college students. The remaining 9% went to students in private programs.
The average CSL student loan in Canada was $5,318 in 2016-2017. Two-thirds of all CSL recipients attended university in Ontario. The average student loan decreased by 4.7% from the previous year because of increased funding for Canada Student Grants.
The number of Canadian households contributing to the Registered Education Savings Grant (RESP) program increased for all income groups between 1999 and 2012, from 16% in 1999 to 47% in 2012. However, just one of every four households in the bottom quintile contribute to a RESP, while two out of every three households in the top quintile do so. The average value for a RESP is just over $2,000 for households in the bottom quintile, while it is almost $16,000 for households in the top quintile.
4.28 Federal Government Contribution to Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)-contributing Households
The federal government has spent $702 million in 2012 on the Registered Education Saving Grant (RESP) program, an increase of 188% since 1999. Half of every dollar in RESP contributions went to families with income over $90,000 in 2012.
The cost of undergraduate tuition has grown markedly over the past decades, from an average of $1,706 in 1991-1992 to $7,086 in 2018-2019, an increase of over 300%. Tuition costs grew the fastest in Ontario (+368%) and the slowest in Newfoundland (+87%). At $8.838, Ontario also has the highest average tuition in the country. The average cost of undergraduate tuition in Newfoundland ($2,885) remains the lowest in the country. Average year-over-year increases in tuition costs between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 were 3.3% for Canadian undergraduates.
The cost of graduate tuition has also grown markedly over past decades, from an average of $1,819 in 1991-1992 to $6,907 in 2018-2019, an increase of 290%. Tuition costs grew the fastest in Ontario (+402%) and the slowest in Saskatchewan (+69%). At $10,028, Ontario also has the highest average tuition in the country. The average cost of graduate tuition in Newfoundland and Labrador ($2,776) is the lowest in the country. Average year-over-year increases in tuition fees between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 were 2.4% for Canadian graduate students.
The average cost of tuition for international undergraduate students was $27,159 in 2018-2019, an increase of 6.3% from 2017-2018. The largest increase in tuition costs for international undergraduate students between 1991-92 and 2018-2019 occurred in Alberta (a whopping 810%), more than double the Canadian average (+379%).
The cost of tuition for international graduate students studying in Canada has skyrocketed over the past two decades. In 1991-92 the average cost of international graduate tuition in Canada was $6,678. By 2018-2019 tuition costs in Canada for international graduate students had escalated to $16,497, an increase of 143%. The most expensive increase between 1991-1992 and 2018-2019 occurred in British Columbia (+794%), more than four times the Canadian average increase over that period.
The most expensive undergraduate programs in Canada continue to be in the professional programs, with the highest being Dentistry tuition costs exceeding $39,000 per year at the University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, and Western University. Tuition fees increased on average 8% between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019.
The most expensive graduate programs in Canada continue to be in the professional programs, with the highest being the Executive MBA tuition fees exceeding $110,000 per year at Queen’s University, the University of Toronto, and Western University.
While participation rates in post-secondary education have grown considerably over the past quarter century, concurrent rates of participation in the labour force on the part of both young college and university students have also grown. About half (49.1%) of full-time students aged 20-29 participated in the labour market in 2017, whether working part-time or full-time, or looking for work. 6.4% of full-time students were employed on a full-time basis in 2017, up from 4.6% in 1997 but down slightly from 6.7% in 2007.
Among full-time college and university students working or looking for work in 2017, 79.8% were employed part-time, 13.0% were employed full-time and 7.2% were unemployed. [4.35] Over the past twenty years, the number of full-time students who were also full-time employees has doubled – from 37,800 such students in 1997 up to 73,300 in 2017.
In 1995-1996, the proportions of 20 year old university and college students who were working were 39% and 47% respectively. The rate of participation in full-time and part-time employment peaked at 46% for university students in 2000-2001, but has since declined, to a rate of 38% in 2015-2016. For 20 year old college students, the rate grew steadily to a peak of 56% in 2010-2011, before declining slightly to 55% in 2016-2017.
Click here for second file University graduates make up a growing share of all full-time employees. Both undergraduate and graduate degree holders saw their share of full-time employment grow steadily over 2000-2018. Those with a Bachelor’s degree saw their share increase from 15.6% in 2000 to 25.0% in 2018, while those who degrees above a Bachelor’s saw their share increase from 7.6% to 11.8%.