Is McMaster University Depending Too Much on International Students?

Universities in Ontario are expected to face profound consequences due to recent changes made in higher education by Doug Ford. Most likely, international students will feel the impact of these changes much more than domestic students when it comes to tuition fees.

The ten per cent drop in domestic tuition that will come into effect later this year will surely cause a reaction from some Ontario schools.

Universities could very likely consider increasing international enrolment and tuition to help offset this anticipated revenue loss.

With these changes in mind, we decided to analyze the international student setting at McMaster University between 2006 and 2017 to help current and prospective students better understand the trends over the past decade, as well as what to expect after these new provincial changes come into effect.

In our study, we found that McMaster has increasingly focused on increasing international tuition and enrolment, while its domestic counterparts have remained essentially stagnant for over a decade.

*When a year is stated, it is the beginning of that academic year. (ie. 2006 refers to the 2006-2007 academic year)

*Data was collected mainly from CUDO (Common University Data Ontario) by the Council of Ontario Universities, school documents such as tuition fee schedules and school-specific CUDO data.

*Tuition fee data was based on the tuition cost for an average undergraduate arts and science full-time degree as this is the metric CUDO uses as a common metric among all Ontario universities.

*The tuition fees stated below refer to the tuition cost for the first-year of studies.

McMaster University Tuition Fees

International Tuition Increased 2.5x and 4.5x More than Domestic Tuition and Inflation, Respectively

mcmaster University's international tuition fees increased more than domestic tuition fees and the inflation rate from 2006-2017 by a significant amount.

From 2006-2017, the increase in international tuition surpassed the increase in domestic tution and inflation rates by more than 2.5x and 4.5x more respectively.

On average, at McMaster University, the first-year domestic tuition cost of an undergraduate arts and science degree (full-time) increased from $4,935 in 2006 (in 2017 dollars) to $6,714 in 2017, which is an increase of 36 per cent.

International tuition for the same degree increased from $14,867 in 2006 (in 2017 dollars) to $27,977 in 2017, an increase of 88 per cent.

The increase in international tuition exceeded the increase in domestic tuition and the inflation rate by more than 2.5x and 4.5x more, respectively.

International Tuition Increased More than Seven Times a Year Compared to Domestic Tuition

international tuition at mcmaster university has increased by more than seven times the amount of domestic tuition on average from 2006 to 2017

The average increase in international tuition has grown 7.4x more than the average increase in domestic tuition each year.

From 2006 to 2017, the average annual increase in domestic tuition was only $162, while the average annual increase in international tuition was an alarming $1,192.

This means that in terms of dollar values, the rate of increase in international tuition rose 7.4x times faster than the amount of domestic tuition each year.

Given that the international tuition cost for an average undergraduate arts and science degree was $27,977 in 2017, if this trend continues for the following 12 years, McMaster’s international tuition fee will be $43,473 by 2030.

international tuition at mcmaster university has been steadily increasing while domestic tuition has almost flatlined.

The numbers shown are adjusted for inflation (in 2017 dollars)

Observing the annual increase in tuition fees, it is clear that McMaster has been increasing international tuition fees at rates far higher than domestic rates.

Every year, the drastic monetary difference in tuition increases shows the intention of McMaster University to further capitalize on incoming international students.

After 2012, International Tuition Increase Rates Outpaced Domestic Rates Each Year by Almost Double the Amount

From 2011 to 2017, mcmaster university's international tuition has outpaced domestic tuition by drastic amounts

Looking at annual rate increases on a year-to-year basis, McMaster's growing reliance on international students is evident.

The increase in international and domestic tuition was fairly balanced until 2010.

After 2011, international tuition hikes were far greater than domestic tuition increases each year.

For instance, the increase in international tuition from 2011 to 2012 was 12x higher than domestic tuition.

*International Student Fees NOTE:

One important thing to note is that the fees being used to calculate international fees do not include ancillary fees, UHIP, Ontario's International Recovery Fee, etc.

Although ancillary fees are typically equal for both domestic and international students, extra fees such as UHIP and Ontario's International Recovery Fee could add an additional $1000-$2000 to an international student's yearly fees.

Which would further widen the gap between total international and domestic fees.

*Enrolment data is based on both full time and part time students for all levels of degrees including Bachelor’s and 1st Professional Degrees, Master’s Degrees, and Doctoral Degrees.

McMaster University Enrolment

International Enrolment Increased by 126 Per Cent While Domestic Enrolment Increased by Only 21 Per Cent From 2006 to 2017

mcmaster university international enrolment has skyrocketed relative to domestic enrolment from 2006 to 2017

The increase in international enrolment exceeded the domestic enrolment rate by more than six times over 12 years.

McMaster's focus on growing its international student population over its domestic student population is apparent.

The international student population of McMaster University has risen by 126 per cent, from 1550 international students in 2006 to 3503 in 2017.

However, the domestic student population of McMaster University has only grown by 21.13 per cent from 22,715 national students in 2006 to 27,514 in 2017.

McMaster University Student Enrolment Breakdown

mcmaster university international student enrolment has been steadily increasing each year

Since 2008, there is a trend towards a steady increase in international student enrolment. Between 2006 and 2017, the number of students has more than doubled, and in recent years, the curve seems to be showing an exponential behavior.
mcmaster university domestic student enrolment has been on a steady increase as well but not as much of an increase as international student enrolment

Domestic student enrolment has increased over time but at a relatively insignificant rate when compared to international student enrolment.

While both international and domestic enrolment has effectively risen every year, domestic enrolment has slowed considerably after 2010 and has since 2013 remained relatively stagnant.

Observing the developments in 2006-2017 by international and domestic enrolment rates, it can be seen that McMaster's focus has been on increasing its amount of international students and their tuition charges.

There are 4.5x More International Students Enrolling Each Year Than Domestic Students

mcmaster university international enrolment increased at a significant rate each year on average compared to domestic enrolment

On average, international enrolment has continuously risen around 4.5x more per year than domestic enrolment.

While the average annual rise in international students was 7.91 per cent, domestic enrolment rose by just 1.77 per cent.

This indicates that every year, on average, international enrolment grew 4.5x faster than domestic enrolment.

mcmaster university international enrolment grew at much higher rates than domestic enrolment from 2009 to 2017

International enrolment grew at astonishing rates compared to year-over-year domestic enrolment, starting in 2009.

The rates at which McMaster increased its number of international students unquestionably greatly exceeded the domestic rates almost every year of this time period.

Since 2009, the school's focus on expanding the number of international students is very clear.

For example, the change in enrolled international students in the years 2015-2016 was more than 5x larger than the increase in domestic students.

In addition, there was no increase in domestic enrolment the following academic year, while international student enrolment increased by nearly 23 per cent.

In 2006-2017 the Proportion of International Students Above Ontario’s Average For Most Years

proportion of international students at mcmaster university has almost doubled in 12 years.

In 2017, the student population of McMaster University consists of nearly twice as many international students as in 2006.

McMaster's proportion of international students has shifted from 6.82 percent in 2006 to 12.73 percent in 2017. This 1.9x increase reflects the university's intentions to increase its international population.

Maybe if the pattern continues, the proportion of international students in the next 12 years will again double.

As international demand for Ontario education is expected to increase due to the quality of education and accessibility of the province's schools, we should also anticipate that universities will take advantage of the opportunity to increase revenue by increasing international tuition rates and enrolment at much higher rates than their domestic counterparts.

Prospective and current students should be aware that Ford's changes will surely have repercussions in higher education institutions, with a high likelihood of affecting international students more than domestic students.


*Ancillary fees, Incidental fees, UHIP, Ontario’s International Recovery fee, and any other fees were excluded from calculations; only tuition fees were included.

*Enrolment data was collected from CUDO by the Council of Ontario Universities.

*See here for a similar analysis but on Ontario as a whole:
Ontario Universities' Increasing Reliance on International Students


McMaster University CUDO Data

CUDO Tool by the Council of Ontario Universities

CUDO Archives


Ontario Universities' Increasing Reliance on International Students

Students Say Ford's Performance-Based Funding is Misguided

Queen’s University by the Numbers: An Intuitive Financial Analysis For Students

Should Higher-Ed Admissions Be Federally Regulated?

Author: daniel @ oneclass . com


Related Articles

Final Exam
Study Guide

Now Available
Notes, Study Guides and Past Exams

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.