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Higher Education (province by province)

Higher education (and indeed primary and secondary education) is administered on a provincial level in Canada, with the exception of some higher education opportunities for Aboriginal learners and the Royal Military College of Canada. As a consequence, higher education structures vary hugely from province to province, and the Federal government has little or no say in their running.

All stated fees are per annum.


Pupils leave school at Grade 11 (ages 16-17) and then go to post-secondary colleges, known as CEGEPs, and focus either on academic or vocational courses for two to three years (three year courses usually being vocational). After this, academically minded students can go to university, vocational ones to either a full-time job or course at a specialist technical centre.

Fees-wise, attending a CEGEP is free, university fees for in-province students stand at about $2400, which rises to $7000 for exterior students, apart from French international students who have the in-province rate.

Higher educational courses are taught in both French and English.

Prince Edward Island

After leaving school at the age of 18, academically minded pupils can enrol at the one public university in the province: the University of Prince Edward Island. Vocational education is provided by the publicly funded Holland College and many smaller private training institutions (up to 20). There is also a private religious university, Maritime Christian College, although it intake is substantially less than UPEI.

Fees at UPEI sit at roughly $6000, and $12,000 for internationals. At Holland College, fees vary by program, some costing significantly more than others. For internationals, an additional $3000 is applicable on top of any stated fee.

All teaching is officially conducted in English, although la Société Éducative de I'Île-du-Prince-Édouard has partnered with UPEI and Francophone universities in other province to provide selected courses for French speakers.


The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities regulates all higher educational establishments, public and private. The province has 22 public universities, 24 technical colleges and 3 ITALs (Institutes of Technology and Advanced Learning), as well as 17 private religious universities and over 500 small private training colleges.

Students ascend to these institutions when they complete school at the age of 18, the vast majority of which are eligible for student loans administered through a joint program between the Canadian Federal Government and the Government of Ontario. Fees are generally around the $5500 mark for Canadian students from any province, with international fees being c.$15,000.

All courses are in English.


As an Arctic province, educational logistics are difficult to enact. There are no universities in Nunavut, with the Nunavut Arctic College being the only higher educational establishment. It provides a limited number of degrees in association with some out-of-province universities, in the fields of teaching, nursing, Traditional Studies (the area has a large aboriginal population), human resources, and law.

Fees stand at $1000 for full-time students, $200 for part-timers and $0 for senior citizens, among the least expensive in Canada.

Nova Scotia

The province has eleven universities, one of which, King’s College, is the oldest in Canada, founded in 1789. The others also have historic roots, making the province's universities among some of the most prestigious in Canada. Fees float around $5000, $12,000 for international students.

For vocational further education, Nova Scotia Community College provides courses across 13 campuses. The province's higher education has strong connections with First Nation organisations which promote the further learning of aboriginal individuals.

All teaching is in English.

Northwest Territories

NWT has two establishments of higher education: Aurora College and Academy of Learning College. It also houses a Federal Government controlled learning institution for helicopter pilot training.

Subjects taught are primarily vocational, and include subjects such as nursing, trades, human resources and campcraft. It has a broad range of scholarships and bursaries in place, mainly for aboriginal students.

Newfoundland and Labrador

The province prides itself in having a small yet effective system of higher education. Memorial University of Newfoundland offers a comprehensive selection of academic courses, while the College of the North Atlantic provides a comprehensive suite of vocational and technical training. There are also 25 smaller private career colleges with various specialities.

A unique challenge faced by N and L as a province is a significant youth and graduate 'brain drain' caused by mass migration by young people to other provinces. The freezing of tuition fees in 2005 has helped to stem the flow of young people leaving the province before going to university, but there remains the issue that many graduates do not use their learned skills in-province.

Equally, the two institutions have a fairly low intake of aboriginal students, due to wider issues with providing literacy to Inuit and Innu communities.

Fees sit at about $2600 for the MUN, $1700 for the CNA.

New Brunswick

Higher education has a rich history in NB, with Mount Allison University being the first university in the British Empire to award a degree to a woman. The province has four public universities, three private religious ones, and three private for-profit institutions (something rather unique in Canada). These are joined by various English and French speaking community colleges and various specialised technical colleges. The public institutions are mandated by the Ministry of Postsecondary Training and Labour; the private for-profit ones received their mandate from NB’s Degree Granting Act of 2001, enabling non-governmental institutions to award degrees.

Fees are somewhat expensive in New Brunswick compared to the rest of Canada. Fees at Mount Allison top $7000, with considerably more for international students. At technical colleges, fees are roughly $3000. Perhaps unsurprisingly one in seven New Brunswickers who attend higher education do so in another province, yet there are many sources of financial aid available from the government.


The prime university is the University of Manitoba, modelled after the University of London: at its founding in the 1880s it was structured as a confederation of small colleges and teaching institutions under a universal banner. In 1967, United College and Brandon College seceded and became universities in their own right: the University of Winnipeg and Brandon University respectively. The University of Manitoba remains the largest awarding body in the province, however, with over 25,000 students enrolled on a yearly basis.

Recently, this university triumvirate has been joined by numerous technical and vocational colleges, the biggest of which is Red River College in Winnipeg.

Demographically, the vast majority of students enrolled in Manitoba’s higher educational institutions are locals. There remain issues in providing higher education to the rural areas in the north of the state, but the recently founded University College of the North aims to plug this gap.

Fees for the Universities of Manitoba, Winnipeg and Brandon stand at about $3000 for locals, £11,000 for internationals. College charges vary on a course-by-course basis, but are in general much cheaper.

British Columbia

There are eleven public universities and fourteen technical institutions in BC. These are joined by three private universities and a considerable number of private colleges of various religious and secular affiliations, inaugurated after 2002’s Degree Authorisation Act (part of wider higher education reforms) which allowed private institutions to award degrees. The quality of these is monitored by a governmental body.

As of the 2002 reforms, the government of British Columbia has made a concerted effort to promote the education of Aboriginal peoples. 40% of aboriginal people now hold some form of higher educational award in BC, compared to a fraction of that amount pre-2002.

The government of BC has a decent financial support structure for students, accessible through a centralised site: BC Awards Online. Aboriginal students are eligible for First Nations funding programs and federal government funding. Fees are between $3800 and $4700 for public universities, with the most expensive technical course fees being $3600 (the Emily Carr University of Art and Design). The province’s premier private university, Trinity Western, currently charges £22,260.


Alberta divides its tertiary education into six formal categories. Comprehensive Academic and Research Institutions are full-bore universities (eg the University of Alberta), usually costing around $5000; Baccalaureate and Applied Studies Institutions, which provide Bachelor’s degrees and applied course awards for c. $4500; technical Polytechnic Institutions and Comprehensive Community Institutions that provide vocational courses for substantially less; Independent Academic Institutions that charge substantially more (c. $10,000) and finally Specialised Arts and Culture Institutions, which charge roughly the same as BASAs.

In 2002, Alberta started the Campus Alberta initiative which aims to promote lifelong learning on the basis that it makes the province more competitive economically and enriches it socially. This involves encouraging companies to enter their staff into formal and informal learning schemes.


Interestingly, higher education in Yukon was instigated by First Nations communities in response to lack of government initiative. The province now has two higher educational establishments: Yukon College and the Yukon School of Visual Arts, founded in 1988 and 2007 respectively. Courses cost roughly $3200. Yukon has some of the most international student-friendly fees in Canada, being only $700 more than for in-province students.

Roughly a third of graduates in Yukon are of First Nations origin, one of the highest proportions in Canada.


The province contains two research universities (of Regina and of Saskatchewan), and the First Nations University of Canada, which is technically a Federal institution, although it has close ties to the University of Regina. These three major institutions have their fees fixed $5310.

The province also contains two technical institutions and numerous smaller private career colleges, as well as provincial support for distance learning spearheaded through the Campus Saskatchewan scheme, which makes post-secondary study available to people living in remote areas.

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