Foreign student fees in Canada competitive, HSBC finds

It costs less for international students to study in Canada than in countries such as Australia, the U.S. and U.K., according to research from HSBC Canada.

Canadian students say they're taking on more debt

Students tour Georgetown University's campus in Washington. D.C. An HSBC study found foreign student fees in Canada are competitive. (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

It costs less for international students to study in Canada than in countries such as Australia, the U.S. and U.K., according to research from HSBC Canada.

Canada falls in the middle of the pack among the top educational markets, with jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and Germany offering lower tuition fees, a study of student costs in 13 countries revealed.

Country Tuition costs
Australia $25,375
U.S. $25,226
U.A.E. $21,371
U.K. $19,291
Canada $18,474
Singapore $14,885
Hong Kong $13,182
Japan $6,522
China $3,983
Taiwan $3,270
Russia $3,131
Spain $1,002
Germany $635

The average tuition cost in Canada, based on fees for international students at the the top 10 colleges and universities is $18,474. That compares to $25,375 in Australia and $19,291 in the U.K.  In Russia tuition costs are a low $3,131 and in Germany, just $635.

But tuition cost is not the only consideration for parents looking to send their son or daughter to an overseas university. They also must consider living costs, which make up about a third of the total costs of an overseas education, and travel costs, as well as the quality of education, according to Betty Miao, vice president of retail banking and wealth management at HSBC Canada.

Canada has a lower cost of living than most of Europe and places such as Japan and Hong Kong, and that may account for the large number of students from abroad who study here.  

In 2013, Canada welcomed a record 100,000 international students, an increase of 60 per cent from 2004, HSBC reported.

"With rising affluence, particularly in developing markets, and an increasingly competitive workplace that demands quality skills and a global outlook, we expect appetite for international education to continue to grow," Miao said.

Students take on more debt

Meanwhile Canadian students are relying less on the bank of Mom and Dad to cover their expenses and more on student loans, according to a study by Bank of Montreal.

An online survey of 602 students conducted by Pollara for BMO found 44 per cent expected their tuition and living expenses to be covered by their parents, compared to 52 per cent in 2012. A sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 4.0 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Students also are less likely to depend on their own savings, a reflection of the poor job market for young Canadians under age 24. About 58 per cent said they depend on their own savings and 55 per cent said they would need a loan.

On average, women students expect to accumulate $30,210 in debt  as they study. Men expect to borrow a little less – about $22,465.

According to the Canada Student Loan Program, most students take nearly 10 years to pay off their loans – with some taking the maximum 14.5 years.


  • An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the university in the photo as Princeton. It is, in fact, Georgetown.
    Sep 03, 2013 10:45 AM ET