By Paul Del Gobbo
Do all Canadians have equal access to postsecondary education?
According to Statistics Canada (2010), access to postsecondary education in Canada has been a popular topic of discussion for quite some time. I feel that it is very important that all Canadians who have the passion/desire to succeed are provided equal access to postsecondary education. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, as certain individuals are granted different levels of accessibility to postsecondary education (Statistics Canada, 2010).
How do we evaluate access to postsecondary education systems?
In a Consultation Paper released by HEQCO (2012) that was titled “Performance Indicators for the Public Postsecondary System in Ontario” it was stated that access to postsecondary education could be measured by acknowledging participation (measures those who attend postsecondary education), attainment (measures those who have obtained a postsecondary degree), the engagement of specific targeted groups (some population groups receive less assistance to accessing postsecondary education) and student financial aid/debt load (postsecondary systems should address the financial situation of each student).
The Research is Telling us that …
1. The cost/affordability of postsecondary education reduces the participation rates of those from low socioeconomic backgrounds (Statistics Canada, 2010).
2. As stated by Statistics Canada (2010), “the evidence points to gaps not only across socioeconomic groups but also between males and females in terms of academic preparedness and motivation to participate in postsecondary education” (para.6). Take a moment to watch the following video clip that was released by HEQCO (2011), it is titled “Understanding the Gender Gap in University Participation.”
3. According to Statistics Canada (2010), many students do not have the interest, guidance and the requirements that are necessary to attend postsecondary educational institutions. Accessing postsecondary education is affected when students have minimal aspirations, lack motivation, are not engaged with school, have poor study habits and fail to complete high school (Statistics Canada, 2010).
4. Parental education is a factor that helps to determine if students are going to take part in postsecondary education. As addressed by Statistics Canada (2010), “parental education appears to affect participation in postsecondary education at least partly through its impact on student aspirations, high school outcomes and related factors” (para.7).
Improving Access to Postsecondary Education …
1. I personally believe that it very important to teach students financial literacy. Providing financial literacy (cost of education, rates of return, the importance of saving, how to access financial assistance) for individuals could help to improve their chances of accessing postsecondary education (HEQCO, 2011). Take a moment to watch the following video clip that was released by HEQCO (2011), it is titled “Financial Literacy and Low Income Students.”
2. The Canadian Policy Research Network (2010) has identified a few popular programs in Canada that are trying to improve access to postsecondary education. The programs are titled:
Future to Discover
Explore Your Horizons
This is Your Life: A Career Planning and Educational Guide
Youth Career Discovery
These programs are discussed in detail at the following website:
3. A program offered in Toronto titled, Ryerson University’s G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, is a program that was developed to “increase postsecondary participation by young people and adults who might not otherwise interact with or experience postsecondary education” (Ryerson University, 2011).
4. In addition, the Canadian Policy Research Networks (2010) has also addressed that the best way to improve one’s access to postsecondary education is to provide them with:
Counselling (focusing on education and career opportunities)
A Mentor (Career Counsellor)
Web-Based Assistance (CanLearn, Youth Career Discovery …)
A well Trained Educator
The opportunity to earn Scholarships
Canadian Policy Research Networks. (2010). Enhancing access to post-secondary education in Canada: an exploration of early intervention initiatives in selected countries. Retrieved from: http://www.cprn.org/documents/52017_EN.pdf
HEQCO. (2011). Financial literacy and low income students. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1G1nRr_6PUQ
HEQCO (2012). Performance indicators for the public postsecondary system in Ontario. Toronto, ON: Author.
HEQCO. (2011). Understanding the gender gap in university participation. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhPjyutTZF4
Ryerson University. (2011). Spanning the gaps to postsecondary education. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0crB5bH1e9I
Statistics Canada. (2010). New perspectives on access to postsecondary education. Retrieved from: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/81-004-x/2010001/article/11152-eng.htm#b