Thursday, July 19, 2012

University Tuitions in Canada and the United States

The University of Toronto is the largest university in North America (70,000 students) and one of the top 20 universities in the world1 [The World University Rankings 2011-2012]. It ranks near the top among the group of very large public universities [World University Rankings].

The University of Toronto is a public university. A large percentage of its operating budget comes directly from the provincial government. In that sense, it is comparable to many of the large state schools in the United States. When we're judging ourselves,2 we use a list of nine American state schools of comparable size and quality.

Tuition costs have been in the news in Canada recently since there have been vocal student protests in Quebec over government plans to raise tuition costs in Quebec schools. The combination of tuition and fees will increase from $2,890 per year to $4,700 per year over a five year phase-in period.

What is the average cost of tuition plus fees at the University of Toronto and how does this compare with similar American schools? President David Naylor gives us the answer on his website where he discusses the problem of student debt in Canada and the United States [Student Debt Redux].


If you're an American, consider sending your children to a Canadian university. You'll save a lot of money and there's an added bonus—we get to show them what a real "socialist" country looks like.


Note: One of the signs in the protest says, "Marx is dead, God is dead, and I don't feel so good."

1. There are many problems with these ranking but the bottom line is that the University of Toronto is a pretty good university as judged by outsiders.

2. Which we do obsessively every few months.

20 comments :

  1. "If you're an American, consider sending your children to a Canadian university."

    Wouldn't a US citizen, as a foreigner, pay higher tuition at UoT? That is the case for foreign students in US universities but perhaps Canada is more magnanimous?

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    1. Yes, you're right. It's not as much of a bargain as it seems. The tuition for non-Canadians is closer to the average tuition for in-state students at the large American schools.

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    2. That is still a good deal if one wants their student to experience a (slightly) different culture and educational experience than in the US.

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    3. As a parent whose son entered college last autumn, I have been particularly aware of these issues (though he is not in a state university). In his high school graduating class there were a number of students who had one parent with Canadian citizenship, and who had made sure their child had dual citizenship. Some of those eagerly embraced the opportunity to attend universities in Canada -- one of my son's friends is now at McGill, at least one other is at UBC.

      When I was at the University of Wisconsin as an undergraduate in the early 1960s, I had an "out of state tuition remission" scholarship according to which I only needed to pay in-state tuition in spite of being from out of state. I could not have afforded to attend Wisconsin otherwise. My parents did not end up with debt after my college years.

      The dream then was of "free public higher education", just like high school. That dream is now distant -- how long before right-wing pressure leads to tuition charges for public high schools? Already many middle-class people feel that they must send their children to expensive private secondary schools because public schools have so many problems -- and so little money to fix them.

      Applause to Canada for at least lagging behind in the rush to abandon public higher education, and for (mostly) not charging people who come from other provinces higher tuition.

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  2. But Larry, these amounts - in the US - are for resident students only. F'instance at Cal, the resident tuition is $12,834/year. Non-residents pay an extra $22,800. Similarly in Canada, there is a non-resident tuition that is added to the resident tuition. IIRC in Ontario all non-residents, Canadian non-Ontarians as well as international students pay the same increment over resident tuition. In Quebec there are 3 tiers - for residents, for non-Quebecois Canadiens and the third for international students. At McGill that would be about $3500/year for Quebecois, ~$7,700 for non-Quebecois Canadien, and ~$17000 for International students. But even then it costs a lot less for sure.

    Truti

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    1. Other canadians pay the same tuition as residents of the province at Ontario schools - Quebec is the exception, as far as I know, because the tuition is so much lower.

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  3. As I have pointed out on other blogs, in the US, it's getting hard to tell the difference between public universities and private ones, due to the great reduction in state support. As an example, it's getting hard to tell the difference between UC Berkeley and Stanford.

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  4. Tuition at U of T is much higher for international students (see http://www.provost.utoronto.ca/link/students/fees13/intl_as.htm). Not such a good deal after all.

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  5. SLCThursday, July 19, 2012 11:12:00 AM
    As I have pointed out on other blogs, in the US, it's getting hard to tell the difference between public universities and private ones, due to the great reduction in state support. As an example, it's getting hard to tell the difference between UC Berkeley and Stanford.


    In terms of cost or in terms of education quality? Because I can easily imagine how the cost reduction measures will also have an effect (a negative one) on the quality of teaching - fewer TAs, professors teaching more classes, fewer lab classes, etc., etc,

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    1. I was speaking in terms of cost. When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley a million years ago, the tuition charge in my freshman year was a flat $50/semester, regardless of the number of credit hours.

      As Prof. Moran points out, the current tuition charge at Berkeley is >$12,000 and that's for 30 credit hours/year. It's higher for someone taking more then 30 credit hours/year.

      As for the quality of instruction, when I was an undergraduate there in physics, the lecturers in physics were generally pretty good, as teaching was taken seriously by the administration in that department. However, the undergraduate math department was a disaster as teaching was not taken seriously at the freshman/sophomore level in that department. It was so bad that many students who were planning to major in math chose to take their freshman and sophomore years at a community college and then transfer as juniors to Berkeley.

      As to the current situation, I really couldn't say as I have not kept up with the department since graduating.

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  6. Chris CapretteThursday, July 19, 2012 11:02:00 AM
    "If you're an American, consider sending your children to a Canadian university."

    Wouldn't a US citizen, as a foreigner, pay higher tuition at UoT? That is the case for foreign students in US universities but perhaps Canada is more magnanimous?


    That may be the case but it's also true that in the top schools a lot of the international students pay only a small fraction (or even none) of the tuition, the rest is financial aid.

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  7. No Georgi, internationals rarely (I won't say never) receive financial aid in the US. Some wealthy private universities do assist internationals with free summer residence. But these are extremely selective ones like Princeton (which otherwise fill as much as 70% by legacy) not meant for anybody.

    As an example, it's getting hard to tell the difference between UC Berkeley and Stanford.
    Not quite. The resident rate at Berkeley is about 60% of Stanford's. Berkeley non-resident rate is still < Stanford's. And Berkeley does offer scholarships to middle and lower income students. and there is a difference. At Berkeley your hair doesn't have to be "right height"! If you know what I mean!

    Truti

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    1. Add me to the chorus of voices saying that Larry need to stop comparing resident tuition to non-resident tuition...not that it isn't verging on criminal how much in-state undergraduate tuition has increased in the US over the last six or seven years.

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    2. When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley, it was more like 5%

      By the way, is the same thing happening at Berkeley and UCLA that is happening here in Virginia at UVA and VPU. At the Virginia schools, out of state students are given preference and instate students, particularly from Northern Virginia, are discriminated against because the out of staters pay a considerably higher tuition. This is due to the cutbacks in state support. This was exposed in an article in the Washington Post a few months ago but there doesn't seem to be anything to be done about it.

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    3. I, and pretty much everyone I know received financial aid for most of their tuition. Yes, that was at a wealthy private university, but I don't know how it is at other universities and I am not speaking about them.

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  8. I'm sure the state and federal legislators in the US understand that the minimal-and-getting-lower public support for post-secondary education is making it more and more difficult for the middle class to sustain itself.

    But then how else will those who can afford to go to good schools and become directors and CEOs find the $8-per-hour employees for their phone banks?

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  9. I don't understand why in America, and many other countries, undergraduates are crucified with fees, bills and charges, but graduate students are given all sorts of money, freebies and tuition waivers.

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    1. As imperfect and often detached from reality as they are a lot of the time, the textbook supply and demand economic models explain that one neatly. Graduate students are given money and freebies because almost nobody would be willing to work 14 hours a day AND pay 60K a year for it; nobody has the resources and passion for science to do it if it was free either. While in the same time universities need the highly motivated labor to keep the research machine running.

      For undergraduates, it's a very different story - as long as there is no shortage of people willing to pay 40-50K a year for four years in order to get a degree, universities will be able to keep charging that much. It also helps very much that the vast majority of the public views education as a good to be sold and bought and the degree as a ticket to getting a well-paying job. That on its own is a huge problem as it an attitude that at its core is pure and brutal anti-intellectualism - if people were going to school in order to learn something rather than to get the degree that they can then use to advertise themselves to employers, the quality of education would be much better, people would be actually learning things and leaving college with the kind of critical thinking skills, and where necessary, a worldview shift that an university education is supposed to trigger in students, and we would be living in a much better society as a result, But that's not the case and as long as education is seen as an "investment" to generate a return, with no shortage of willing "investors", we will keep having these discussions...

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  10. Now if you live in the state of Minnesota. Minnesota has a reciprocity agreement with the province of Manitoba. So a Minnesota resident can go the University of Manitoba or Winnipeg for the same rate as a resident of Manitoba. The same go for Manitoba residents who want to go to a Minnesota school.

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  11. Now if your a resident of Minnesota, you can go to a University in Manitoba for the rate that Manitoba residence pays. Minnesota & Manitoba have a reciprocity agreement which allow one's residence to study in the other state/province for the in-state/province rate.

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