I know we’re usually just messing around here at 9to5 (dot cc) but I also like to think we’re a group of at least somewhat educated and intelligent people. We’re also from Montreal and the big news in Montreal is the student protests regarding the tuition hikes that are being proposed over the next 5 years. . I don’t really want to get into opinion here, just throwing up some facts since I honestly didn’t know them and researched them all for myself. Then I thought I’d share.

As we close in on the third month of student strikes here in Montreal (the city being the focal point for all strikes in Quebec) I have decided to do a comparison between what tuition has cost in the past in comparison to minimum wage as well as the average annual income to find out how much or how little it has been adjusted for inflation. I tried to find the percentage of the population that attended university by decade but wasn’t able to get those numbers consistently for all decades. I provided all the numbers that I could get a hold of. Then I wanted to make a graph, but I didn’t.

Other fun historical tidbits: Students have protested each and every tuition hike with various degrees of success. Prior to the current protest the previous longest protest was 8 weeks. I got the tuition fees here.

Tuition Fees:

1970-1990: $500

Wow. The government tried twice to increase the fees by $47 and the students protested and managed to keep the fees down for 20 years. Finally in 1990 the Liberals forced an increase of $280 a year for the next four years, bring it up pretty quickly to $1668.

1994-2007: $1668

Once that hike took effect it held for 13 years, the Liberals then announced another hike of $500 over a period of five years. This was met with a relatively weak protest and went through.

2012: $2168

In the same year that the last hike was fully in place, the Liberal now propose another hike of $1625 over the course of 5 years, bringing the total tuition fees to $3793 by 2017.

Minimum Wage and Average Income (Projected figures in red):

Year

Minimum Wage

Average Individual Income

Tuition

1970

$1.40

5683

500

1971

$1.45

5683

500

1972

$1.60

5683

500

1973

$1.85

5683

500

1974

$2.30

5683

500

1975

$2.60

5683

500

1976

$2.87

5683

500

1977

$3.15

5683

500

1978

$3.37

5683

500

1979

$3.47

5683

500

1980

$3.65

13369

500

1981

$3.85

13369

500

1982

$4.00

13369

500

1983

$4.00

13369

500

1984

$4.00

13369

500

1985

$4.00

13369

500

1986

$4.35

13369

500

1987

$4.55

13369

500

1988

$4.75

13369

500

1989

$5.00

13369

500

1990

$5.30

24259

500

1991

$5.55

24500

780

1992

$5.70

24800

1060

1993

$5.85

24600

1340

1994

$6.00

24500

1668

1995

$6.45

24700

1668

1996

$6.70

24300

1668

1997

$6.80

24300

1668

1998

$6.90

24800

1668

1999

$6.90

26100

1668

2000

$6.90

26300

1668

2001

$7.00

27500

1668

2002

$7.20

28200

1668

2003

$7.30

28400

1668

2004

$7.30

28300

1668

2005

$7.45

28900

1668

2006

$7.75

29900

1668

2007

$8.00

30600

1768

2008

$8.50

31100

1868

2009

$9.00

31500

1968

2010

$9.50

32140

2068

2011

$9.65

32780

2168

2012

$10.05

33420

2168

2013

$10.45

34060

2493

2014

$10.85

34700

2818

2015

$11.25

35340

3143

2016

$11.65

35980

3468

2017

$12.05

36620

3793

Notes on my figures: I wasn’t able to get consistant historical number, but found the average annual wage by decade for the 70s, 80s and 90s here. I apologize for the rapid jumps on the decade changes, since this is an average it is likely closer to the rate at the middle of the decade (keep in mind this study was done in 1990, so you can imagine the average income must be much lower in the early 80s and then higher in the late 80s). The big jump from 1989 to 1990 is misleading if you don’t keep this in mind.

From 1990 Onwards I went here.

I’ve included the average income of an individual instead of a family.

I could only find statistics up to 2009, so I adjusted the average income using maths of the past 5 years and projected the next years up until 2017. This basically turned into an increase in minimum wage of 40 cents per year and increased salary of $620 a year for individuals. I know this doesn’t accurately reflect the inflation rate, but neither does salary so I couldn’t come up with a good way to balance those so I chose a 5 year average.

Some numbers that I really wanted but was unable to find were the percentage of Quebecers that actually attended university over the course of the past 40 years.  In the 1970s tuition was 10% of the average annual income, but by 1990 it was only 2%. You would hope that with that comparatively low tuition rate people would be capitalizing and getting educated, but who knows? Those numbers would be fascinating to look at to see the correlation between the amount of people that attend university in comparison to how expense it is compared to the average salary.

The math that I didn’t have time to do would be what a 20 hour a week part time job at minimum wage would get you in terms of annual salary and compare that to the tuition fees. Since that’s basically the worst case for students who are paying their own way through university. I did it for a few select years though; 1970, 1990, 2011 and 2017 (projected):

In 1970 it would take 17 weeks at a minimum wage salary part time job to earn 500. Your annual income would be $1456 so as a part time employed student your tuition fees would be a little over 30% of your salary.

In 2011 it would take 11 weeks for you to earn your tuition fees of $2168. Your annual income would be $10036. So your tuition fees would be around 21% of your salary.

At the biggest difference bewtween salary and tuition fees (1990) it would take you only 5 weeks part time salary to get your $500 and your annual income would be $5512. Tuition fees would only 9% of your part time salary.

With the proposed changes (and assuming my minimum wage estimates are somewhat accurate) in 2017 it will take about 16 weeks of your minimum wage part time job to get tuition fees of $3793 and your part time annual minimum wage will be $12532. Tuition would be 30% of your part time minimum wage salaries.

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