The Great Foreign Student Rip Off - The Top Canadian Universities for Foreign Students 2015
Canada now ranks 7th among destinations for international students seeking to study abroad, often in an English-speaking country like Australia, New Zealand, or the USA and the UK. From 2003 to 2013 there was an 84% increase in international students in Canada, from slightly over 159,000 to about 290,000. In post-secondary education, international students make up about 8% of total enrolment. But wait, here’s the best part. Canada now earns around $8 billion annually from foreign students, including tuition and living expenses.
- Tuition in Ontario
- Tuitions of notable universities across Canada
- Value for Money
- Cheapest Universities in Canada for Foreign Students
And why is that? Well, as any international post-secondary student in Canada knows, they pay way more tuition than Canadians. In fact, international post-secondary students pay fees that are often several times more than the made-in-Canada fees applicable to native-born and naturalized Canadians. For example, in Ontario, you have the following tuition differentials:
|University/College||Domestic tuition¹||International Tuition¹||Percentage Increase
|The University of Guelph||CAD$5,924||CAD$14,080||138%|
|Ontario College of Art and Design||CAD$5,900||CAD$18,880||220%|
|The University of Toronto||CAD$8,235||CAD$31,260||280%|
|The University of Waterloo||CAD$6,687||CAD$21,508||222%|
|The University of Windsor||CAD$5,882||CAD$18,350||212%|
|Royal Military College of Canada||CAD$5,560||CAD$17,500||215%|
¹ Average Tuition. Specific rates, depending on what courses/programs are studied, may differ slightly, especially for international students. Does not include living expenses.
From the above table, we can see that these Ontario schools are no bargain for international students. The worst offender is clearly Queen’s University which is not even among the top globally-ranked Canadian schools anymore. York University, however, seems to have a policy of making tuition for international students more accessible than the others do. This would fit with its philosophy of supporting diversity in as many ways as possible.
|University/College||Domestic Tuition¹||International Tuition¹||Percentage Increase
|The University of British Columbia||CAD$4,890||CAD$23,286||376%|
|Simon Fraser University||CAD$5,217||CAD$19,648||277%|
|The University of Alberta||CAD$5,321||CAD$19,645||269%|
|The University of Calgary||CAD$5,386||CAD$18,338||241%|
|The University of Manitoba||CAD$3,679||CAD$12,878||250%|
|The University of New Brunswick||CAD$6,187||CAD$13,680||121%|
|St. Francis Xavier University||CAD$6,213||CAD$13,970||125%|
¹ Average Tuition. Specific rates depending on what courses/programs are taken, may differ slightly, especially for international students. Does not include living expenses.
From the above tables, one can see which universities charge international students the most relative to Canadian students, with UBC followed by Queen’s at the top of the list. But which of the above schools offers the best value? To answer this question we took the QS World Rankings of the Canadian schools, which is one of the most broad-based rankings (rather than the THE survey or the ARWU survey), and compared the relative cost of tuition for international students at each Canadian University we looked at. We arrived at the relative cost of tuition by comparing tuition at each Canadian University with an average of the top 10 globally ranked schools in the QS survey. In other words, how much bang for your buck are you getting as an international student? Here are the results of the top 10 value plays among Canadian Universities:
|University||Relative cost compared to
Top 10 global universities¹
|QS global ranking|
|The University of Manitoba||US$27,950 less than Global Top l 10 tuition average||Below 700|
|York University||US$27,682 less||421-430|
|The University of Guelph||US$26,868 less||431-440|
|Dalhousie University||US$25,829 less||235|
|McGill University||US$23,297 less||21|
|The University of Calgary||US$22,991 less||171|
|McMaster University||US$22,229 less||113|
|The University of Alberta||US$21,860 less||84|
|Simon Fraser University||US$21,857 less||222|
|Ryerson University||US$21,437 less||Below 700|
|The University of Waterloo||US$20,183 less||169|
|The University of British Columbia||US$18,583 less||43|
|Queen's University||US$16,575 less||187|
|The University of Toronto||US$11,406 less||20|
¹ Tuition is based on the average of Undergraduate degree costs and does not include costs for Postgraduate degrees.
While one would expect a University’s ranking to be lower as the savings on tuition compared to global top 10 tuition costs increased, there are exceptions clearly visible. On the good side, McGill University is great value for the money. You pay far less in tuition than at a global top 10 university but get a QS global ranking of 21. Queen’s University comes up looking lousy again with a QS ranking of only 187 and yet it is the 2nd most expensive school compared to global top 10 tuition costs. And Ryerson is relatively expensive but ranks below 700, a clear disappointment.
York and Guelph are good bargains on the cost side, but rank below 400. University of Calgary, McMaster, and University of Alberta are solid mid-table choices both in terms of cost and quality of education. And at either end of the table, University of Manitoba is cheap and ranks poorly while University of Toronto is the most expensive by a long shot while the top in the rankings, if only by 1 point ahead of McGill at 20. University of British Columbia is expensive but offers good quality with a QS ranking of 43.
Finally, we have a best buy for bargain hunters; the cheapest Canadian schools for international students. These are the cheapest 5 schools based on their Canadian dollar tuition fees for international students.
|University||Tuition||Increase for Internationals||QS ranking
|The University of Manitoba||CAD$12,878||250%||Below 700|
|The University of New Brunswick||CAD$13,680||121%||Not Ranked|
|St. Francis Xavier University||CAD$13,970||125%||Not Ranked|
|The University of Guelph||CAD$14,080||138%||431-440
Manitoba, York, and Guelph Universities are all in the best value table as well, while UNB and St. Francis Xavier are not because of their lack of QS global rankings. That does not mean you can’t get a good education at UNB or St. Francis Xavier, just that you might get a better deal elsewhere. And as an international student faced with discriminatory tuition fees in Canada, your smartest choice is always to go for value.