Tuition Limit Policy

Government has taken action to limit tuition and mandatory fee increases to the rate of inflation. The limit for tuition and mandatory fees is 2%.

The tuition limit applies to:
  • Professional programs.
  • Cost recovery/continuing education credentialed programs.
  • All other credentialed and open enrolment programs.
  • Mandatory fees, including capital construction support (e.g., building fees), consumable fees (e.g., fees charged for field trips and consumable supplies) and other mandatory fees (e.g., application fees and technology fees).
The tuition limit does not apply to:
  • International student tuition and mandatory fees.
  • Third-party contracts.
  • New programming (first year). Institutions may set the initial tuition and mandatory fee rate for new instructional programs (not amendments to existing programs). After the first year, tuition and mandatory fees will be subject to the tuition limit policy.
  • Community/continuing education non-credentialed courses. Most of these are short-term courses offered in the evening or on the weekend (e.g., first aid, photography).
  • Mandatory fees for student association or society fees (collected on behalf of student associations).

Tuition Limit Policy Application

Government introduced the tuition limit policy in 2005. In 2007, the policy was extended to include institutional and program mandatory fees.

Public post-secondary institutions are expected to ensure programs and courses are affordable and accessible for students. In accordance with applicable legislation, post-secondary boards (Boards) are responsible for setting, determining, and collecting tuition and mandatory fees within the tuition limit policy.

The following provides clarification on the application of the tuition limit policy as it relates to both new and existing programs and fees.

Existing programs
  • Tuition and fees for existing programs and services must not increase more than the rate set by the policy.
Updates to Existing programs
  • Post-secondary institutions are expected to keep programs current.  Updates to existing programs are considered part of this ongoing process and are expected to be achieved within the tuition limit policy.
Revised programs1
  • It is recognized that, at times, substantial changes to a program may be necessary.
  • An existing program that is substantially revised may be submitted to the Ministry for determination as to whether the program is new for the purposes of the tuition limit policy.  
  • Prior to introducing a new level of tuition, institutions must submit a written request to the Ministry for review, outlining the revisions that led to new or changed objectives, goals, learning competencies and outcomes for the program and students.  Written request to include the following information on the understanding that additional information may be required.   
  1. Rationale for the program change (include any changes that result from new requirements of regulatory or licensing bodies).
  2. Outline of the main program changes (e.g. new or changed objectives, goals and learning competencies for the program and students).
  3. Provide a “course mapping” (i.e. listing out existing courses besides a listing of new ones, including associated changes).
  4. Outline the tuition and mandatory fees (please list mandatory fees individually) for the revised program and how they compare to the current program.  Outline how the tuition and mandatory fees for the revised program compare to similar programs in British Columbia (or outside of British Columbia, if there are no similar programs in British Columbia).
  5. Whether tuition and mandatory fees for courses that form part of other existing programs are being kept consistent to ensure students attending the same course in a different program are not paying a differential tuition and mandatory fee.
  6. The number of credits, hours and program length of the revised program and how it compares to the current program.
  7. Whether the revised program will be offered if it is not considered new under the tuition limit policy.  Include the start date of the revised program.
  8. Impact the revised program would have on existing students (i.e. would the revisions cause any existing students to face a tuition fee increase part way through the program).
  9. Comparison of current and revised program changes (e.g. admission requirements, delivery method and other program requirements).
  10. If the revised program requires the hiring of new staff and faculty.
  11. Whether the revised program has been approved by the Education Council and Board of Governors.
  12. Outline the labour market demands for graduates of the revised program, how the program aligns with industry and student demand.  Would the revised program create new employment opportunities?  Would graduates have knowledge/technical skills that employers require in order to hire?
  13. When the former program was last revised.
  14. Other applicable information.  
  • Revised programs are evaluated by the Ministry and an independent third party reviewer to determine whether they are new for the purpose of the tuition limit policy.
  • When a revised program qualifies as a new program for the purpose of the tuition limit policy, the institution may establish tuition and mandatory fees for the first year that the program is offered and must apply government’s tuition policy in subsequent years.
  • Specifically, the institution may establish tuition and mandatory fees for courses that form part of the new program and not part of any other existing program. Tuition and mandatory fee increases for any courses in the new program that form part of other existing programs must be kept within the rate set by the tuition limit policy. This ensures that students attending the same course in different programs are not paying a differential fee based on their program, reflecting the spirit of the tuition limit policy by keeping tuition and mandatory fees for existing programs to a minimum.
New programs
  • Boards establish the tuition amount for the first year, and the rate increase set by the policy applies thereafter. 
New mandatory fees2,3,4
  • New mandatory fees may be introduced for new services if there is a clear benefit to students.  
  • Proactive consultation and engagement with students should be undertaken prior to Board review and approval.  
  • Institutions should also consult with the Ministry early in the process when new fees are being considered.  
  • BC public post-secondary institutions are required to report details on any new mandatory fees to the Ministry as part of the annual tuition and fees reporting requirements.  The report needs to be signed by the Vice President of Finance and/or Academics.

Boards are responsible for ensuring that all requirements have been met before approving new tuition or mandatory fee amounts.

1 Institutions are to ensure that revised programs go through the PSIPS and/or Degree Quality Assessment Board (DQAB) process as appropriate.
2 Applies to any new mandatory fees that bring the total tuition and mandatory increase above the 2% rate set by the tuition limit policy.
3 Mandatory fees are defined as those fees a student must pay to the institution in order to complete a program.
4 Optional fees do not need to be reported.