StatsCan: Estimated Financial Impact to Canadian Universities Due to COVID-19

Statistics Canada’s latest paper in their Education, Learning and Training Research Series estimates the projected financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian universities for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Over the last decade, universities have increasingly relied on tuition fees as a revenue source. This growth has been estimated to come mostly from an increasing share of international students who pay, on average, four times more in tuition fees as compared to domestic students, to pursue schooling in Canadian universities (Statistics Canada, 2021). … The aim of this report is to develop projection scenarios to estimate the potential financial losses in the 2020/21 school year for Canadian universities by province.

Statistics Canada Government of Canada. (2021). Projected Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Universities for the 2020/21 Academic Year (Education, Learning and Training Research Paper Series). Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/en/catalogue/81-595-M2021002

Key Results:

According to this study, Canadian universities could lose between $438 million (-1.0%) to $2.5 billion (-5.7%) of projected revenues for 2020/2021.

  • In the most pessimistic scenario (High-H1), with a decrease of 21.8% of international students combined with a 20.1% decrease of domestic students, revenue losses could reach $2.5 billion. In this scenario, the greatest impact, as a share of existing revenues, would be experienced among universities in Ontario (-$1.7 billion or -8.9% of projected revenues) and British Columbia (-$430 million or –6.9% of projected revenues).
  • In contrast, the high (H2) scenario, estimates a larger decline in international enrolment (41.6%) combined with stable growth in domestic students, resulting in a lower impact on tuition fee revenue at the national level (-5.4%).
  • In the medium loss scenario (M1), the financial loss could reach 2.5% of projected university revenues, equal to $1.1 billion, if international enrolment were to decline by 21.8% at the national level.
  • According to the medium loss scenario (M2) scenario, with a decrease of 21.8% of international students, and an increase in domestic student enrolment (7.4%), the financial loss could reach 1.3% of overall projected university revenues for 2020/2021, equal to approximately $574 million.
  • Finally, in the most optimistic scenario (L1), assuming international student enrolments would decrease by 12.5%, losses would be equal to approximately 1.0% of projected total revenues or $438 million at the national level.
Source: Projected Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Universities for the 2020/21 Academic Year

Source: Projected Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Canadian Universities for the 2020/21 Academic Year

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