TORONTO, Feb. 8 /CNW/ - Throughout Canada, having no family history of
college or university is a significantly greater obstacle to higher
education than is family income. In fact, according to two new studies commissioned by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO), a single year of parental education has a greater positive impact on
the likelihood of a son or daughter attending a postsecondary
institution than does an extra $50,000 in parental income.
For Ontario students, coming from a low-income household is even less of
an obstacle to college or university education than is the case
anywhere else in Canada according to the studies, Access to Postsecondary Education: How Ontario Compares, and Under-represented Groups in Postsecondary Education in Ontario: Evidence
from the Youth in Transition Survey. While parental education was a strong influencer throughout Canada,
family income was more strongly associated with college or university
attendance in Atlantic Canada and Quebec than elsewhere. Further, the
effects of family income were stronger nationally for females than for
Both studies used data from the Youth in Transition Survey, a
longitudinal survey administered by Statistics Canada and Human
Resources and Skills Development Canada that examines the major
transitions in the lives of young people, particularly between
education, training and work.
The results of these and previous studies "present a fundamental
challenge to our thinking about 'barriers' to postsecondary education
(PSE)," writes study co-author Ross Finnie. "It is perhaps not so much
that those from low-income families are not able to go to PSE but that they also tend to be from families whose parents
do not have a PSE credential. It is the transmission of values in
favour of PSE, the preparation for PSE and other such factors
associated with parental education - and not family income - that
actually matter most." Finnie says there is growing consensus that
early background and other cultural factors may be the most important
influencers of all.
"The policy implications are potentially far-reaching," he says, noting
that in addition to addressing financial constraints (such as tuition
levels, loans and grants), more attention could be devoted to
"improving student motivation and performance at (or before) the high
school level, providing better information to students and their
families about the costs and benefits of education from an early age
and carrying out other interventions targeted at the early-rooted and
family-based factors that seem to be the most important determinants of
Finnie is an associate professor in the Graduate School of Public and
International Affairs at the University of Ottawa, where he is also
director of the recently formed Education Policy Research Initiative.
Study co-authors Stephen Childs and Andrew Wismer are researchers with the Education Policy Research Initiative.
From the source: Hear from study co-author Ross Finnie and Richard Wiggers, HEQCO
research director, in a short video interview.
About the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is an arm's-length
agency of the Government of Ontario dedicated to ensuring the continued
improvement of the postsecondary education system in Ontario. The
Council was created through the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Act, 2005. It is mandated to conduct research, evaluate the postsecondary
education system, and provide policy recommendations to the Minister of
Training, Colleges and Universities with a view to enhance the quality,
access, and accountability of Ontario's higher education system.
SOURCE Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
For further information:
Executive Director, Communications
Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario