Canada tempts US with cut-price fees

October 22, 1999

MONTREAL. Canadian universities lured more Americans to their campuses over the past year, mainly because of a recruiting campaign that focused on the lower cost of heading north.

A survey of 30 Canadian universities found that 42 per cent more Americans went to Canada in the past academic year than in the previous year, with nine institutions reporting an increase of more than 100 per cent in the number enrolling.

Growth will probably continue as institutions look for ways to increase revenue. Canadian universities have been working with marketing companies and continue to send people to United States' recruiting fairs.

In rural high-school gymnasiums, representatives will play up their university's economic advantages, including fees lower than US private colleges and most high-end state universities.

While many of the universities surveyed had fewer than 100 US students on their campuses, Montreal's McGill University had a strong US presence. Of the 3,677 full-time American university students counted in Canada last year, more than one third chose McGill, with 1,425 currently enrolled.

International McGill students will spend about Can$7,000 (Pounds 2,878) a year compared with Can$30,000 if they were to attend a comparable US university.

Although the American enrolment figures for the University of Windsor pale into insignificance next to McGill, the city has seen a 300 per cent rise in the numbers of US students since the 1995-96 academic year. Further increases are expected since the university halved fees last year, in an effort to boost lagging enrolment and attract more students in an area that has 20 universities in an approximately 200 mile radius.

The Can$5,607 a year for an undergraduate degree compares favourably to even the least expensive US university in the area, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, with fees equivalent to Can$8,945.

The economic advantages of attending a Canadian university have been picked up by the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, with articles comparing students dodging high US tuition to the draft-dodging Americans of the Vietnam war.

While tuition savings may be on the minds of some Americans, others such as Jennifer Lento from New Jersey came to Canada because it offered an attractive programme. Although her parents both work at Princeton University, the quiet southern Ontario campus of University of Guelph offered her an environmental science degree that she could not find in the US.

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