Canadian universities, colleges spent $27.5 billion in 2016-2017

Provincial funding has decreased while revenue from tuition has gone up significantly in the last six years: StatsCan

Mario Toneguzzi: Canadian universities, colleges spent more, increase tuition feesCanada’s 148 public universities and degree-granting institutions spent $27.5 billion in 2016-2017, up 1.5 per cent from $27.1 billion in 2015-2016, according to Statistics Canada.

The federal agency reported on Tuesday that revenues increased 10.7 per cent, rising from $27.2 billion in 2015-2016 to $30.1 billion in 2016-2017.

“Post-secondary education plays a key role in a skills-based labour market and the successful labour market outcomes of Canadians,” said StatsCan. “Government funding is the largest source of revenue.”

Universities and degree-granting colleges receive most of their funding from government sources and tuition fees. The remainder comes from donations, private grants, investments and other minor revenue sources.

“Governments are the single biggest contributor to revenue, accounting for $13.9 billion or 46.1 per cent of all revenues in 2016-2017. The majority of government funding came through the provinces ($10.8 billion), while the federal government was the direct source for another $2.9 billion.

“Almost all of federal government funding (87.6 per cent) is directed toward sponsored research through research granting programs, such as the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the National Science and Engineering Research Council. Provincial funding is primarily earmarked for operating costs and capital spending.”

The report said provincial funding totalled $10.8 billion in 2016-2017, up from $10.6 billion in 2015-2016. As a proportion of total funding over the five-year period, provincial funding decreased from 41.9 per cent in 2011-2012 to 35.8 per cent in 2016-2017.

Statistics Canada also said the schools received $8 billion in revenue from tuition and other fees in 2016-2017, up $422.3 million from 2015-2016.

“Revenue from tuition fees increased by 29.1 per cent, from $6.2 billion in 2011-2012 to $8.0 billion in 2016-2017. The proportion of revenues from tuition fees has grown from 23.5 per cent in 2011-2012 to 26.6 per cent in 2016-2017,” it said.

“Key factors for the overall rise in the proportion of tuition revenues were increased tuition fees, and more international students, who pay higher tuition fees than domestic students.”

Statistics Canada said the largest proportion of university expenditures was for staff compensation (salaries, wages and benefits), accounting for $16.5 billion in 2016-2017, up $246 million from 2015-2016. Total compensation has increased as a proportion of total expenditures, from 57.8 per cent in 2011-2012 to 60 per cent in 2016-2017.

Respected business writer Mario Toneguzzi is a veteran Calgary-based journalist who worked for 35 years for the Calgary Herald in various capacities, including 12 years as a senior business writer.


Canadian universities, colleges spent more, increase tuition feesThe views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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