Tuition, fees and expanded student support

To: The Dalhousie University community
From: Deep Saini, President and Vice-Chancellor
Date:  Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Re: Tuition, fees and expanded student support for 2020-21

The following memo is for our valued student community, though we are sharing it with our entire university community as its information is of broad interest.

Last week, I shared news of how we are approaching instruction for the fall term. Yesterday, Dalhousie’s Board of Governors met to consider tuition and fees for the upcoming academic year. Tuition and fees are critical to supporting Dalhousie’s most important priorities for this upcoming year:

  • The health and safety of our students and community
  • Our unwavering commitment to academic excellence
  • The reality of financial pressures on our students
  • The overall financial stability of the institution

Here is a summary of what you can expect this fall:

Tuition is increasing by 3%. Annual tuition increases are necessary to maintain the high quality of our academic programming — this was true before the COVID-19 pandemic and is even more apparent today as we work to ensure your academic experience this fall is delivered to the highest standards. The Board’s motion approved a tuition increase of up to 3%, and given the investments needed in student support and online instruction — as well as to help manage the significant financial impacts of this current pandemic — Dalhousie will be implementing the full 3% increase for this upcoming year.

We’re providing more financial aid than ever before, recognizing the impact of the current pandemic on the financial means of many of our students. We’re doubling financial aid bursary funding, adding an additional $3 million for domestic and international undergraduate students who need financial support. This financial assistance is above and beyond the scholarships, bursaries and other student assistance Dalhousie offers from the operating budget totalling more than $36 million per year.

We’re waiving or modifying many student fees. For many students, these savings will offset the tuition increase for the fall.

  • Athletics and recreation fees for all students will be waived for the fall term ($110 in Halifax, $75.29 in Truro), as will fees related to the Dalplex Fitness Centre ($90).
  • Student Services and Facilities Renewal Fees will be frozen at 2019-20 rates for the upcoming year. Our student services remain available and long-term investments into our facilities remain ever present.
  • Faculty-based fees are being reviewed and will be adjusted where possible.
  • A decision regarding UPass fees will be made at a later date once more details are available about both on-campus activity and Halifax Transit operations for the fall.

We’re putting more resources into supporting your academic experience. Our costs do not decrease when instruction moves online; in many cases there are new or different costs as we work to ensure courses are delivered with the world-class academic quality you expect from Dalhousie. That’s why we’re spending $1 million on technology development, additional online instruction training and increased online supports for students.

International tuition will increase as planned for students who began their studies in September 2019 or later. As previously approved last year, international tuition for students who started studies at Dal in September 2019 or later is increasing by an additional $1,473 annually through 2022-23 — an adjustment to bring our fees more in line with our Canadian comparators. Dalhousie’s international tuition is still among the lowest of our peer research universities across Canada. International students will receive the same support through the reduction in student fees and increased financial aid.

We’re doing our part to reduce costs. Steps are being taken across the university to reduce costs and limit non-essential spending to ensure our overall financial stability during this pandemic. This includes limiting new hiring (except those roles deemed essential to our mission) and other human resources related costs, acting with significant spending prudence, and deferring maintenance and facilities work where possible.

The full operating budget for 2020-21 is still actively in review and will be considered by the Board in June. For more information, visit Recommendations for tuition and fees for 2020-21 were developed and consulted through our usual Budget Advisory Committee process, however, we deferred moving final recommendations forward for approval to our Board of Governors earlier this spring to allow us to fully consider the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dalhousie is committed to your success, and we are all here to do whatever we can to keep you safe and help you complete your studies during a very difficult time. Over the past two months, the university has provided emergency financial aid to nearly 1,000 students. Additionally, with the support of generous donors through our projectDal campaign, we will continue to assist those in need. If you are having challenges, please reach out — there are resources available to you. Learn more at


Deep Saini
President and Vice-Chancellor
Dalhousie University