Poor Canadians continue to be underrepresented in post-secondary institutions, with their wealthier counterparts being twice as likely to attend university, according to the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation. The Price of Knowledge, published Tuesday by the foundation, said this represents one piece of evidence that Canada has made little progress in narrowing access gaps that affect participation in post-secondary education.
These gaps, the fourth annual report said, have resulted in youth from low-income families or whose parents have little or no post-secondary education being underrepresented in institutions of higher education.
The foundation is a private, independent organization created by a 1998 act of Parliament. Its mandate is to provide scholarships and bursaries to Canadian students studying at a post-secondary level.
This year’s report had seven sections, each focusing on social backgrounds of Canada’s students, how they pay for education and the barriers they face when pursuing higher education.
One line drawn in the report suggests that it is easier for a young person with poor grades who comes from a privileged family to access post-secondary education than it is for a gifted student who comes from a low-income family.
Once students from either background are enrolled at an institution, the report noted, academic performance determines the level of success 8212; not social background.
Despite falling into the category of youth that is underrepresented in post-secondary education, Mallory Belgica has found ways to pursue fashion marketing at LaSalle College in Montreal. She said she relies on the government to help pay $1,725 in tuition fees each semester.
Her parents can’t contribute, she said, because one is unemployed and the other is semi-retired.
Belgica is like 30 per cent of Canadian post-secondary students, who said they rely on the government for education subsidies. With a part-time job at a pharmacy, she is also like two-thirds of students who said they look to employment as a way to afford their education, according to the Price of Knowledge.
Belagica said she receives $2,617 from the government each semester. “It helps me pay for my tuition, books and other things that I can’t afford with my part-time job.” she said. “Without this loan I would have to work a full time job and my school work would suffer, as would my chance of graduating.”
Higher education can be an important factor for finding future employment. Canadians without a high school diploma are 2.5 times more likely to be unemployed than are those with a Bachelor’s Degree, the Millennium Scholarship Foundation said.
Furthermore, a university or college graduate earns an average of $394,000 more than a high school graduate, according to the report. And someone holding a Bachelor’s, it noted, will earn $745,800 more over the course of 40 years.
This comparison is based on full-time employees in Canada. As noted by Statistics Canada, people who didn’t pursue higher education after high school are more likely to be unemployed or work part-time.
The value of post-secondary education has held true, even through the recession. Though overall employment in Canada declined over the past year, the decline was sharpest among employees with lower levels of education.