Demand for an Ontario university education keeps rising

TORONTO, Jan. 21, 2013 /CNW/ - High school students continue to apply to Ontario universities in record numbers, recognizing that a university education will give them essential life skills such as problem solving and critical thinking, and workforce benefits including higher earnings and career potential.

The number of secondary students applying to first-year programs increased by 2.4 per cent over last year, according to information released by the Ontario Universities' Application Centre. A total of 92,554 secondary students applied. Since 2000, secondary school applicants to Ontario universities have increased by 56.3 per cent, a trend that is expected to continue.

Early indications show that the number of non-high school applicants is up 2.3 per cent year-over-year, although this figure will increase as they continue to apply to university programs. When tallied, the current total of first-year applicants to date from both high school and non-high school pathways is 117,700.

"Growing demand for a university education shows that students believe a degree is the best investment they can make in their future," says Alastair Summerlee, Chair of the Council of Ontario Universities (COU) and President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Guelph. "Universities are preparing students for that future with rigourous academic programs, innovative practices in teaching and learning, increased online and technology blended learning opportunities, expanded experiential learning experiences, and a robust range of career services."

Even amidst the recession, 87.5 per cent of university students who finished their programs in 2009, found employment within six months of graduating and 93.1 per cent were employed within two years. In comparison, 2008-2009 college graduates had an employment rate of 84.8 per cent one year after graduation. Ontario university graduates earn approximately 32 per cent more annually than those with a college certificate or diploma, and 53 per cent more than those with no postsecondary education.

Graduates are also putting their degrees to use - 76.3 per cent of university students working full-time within six months of graduation considered their work "closely" or "somewhat" related to their education. This figure increases to 82.3 per cent after two years.

Ontario universities are not only preparing students for existing jobs - they are also helping them create their own jobs through a wide range of entrepreneurship opportunities including academic programs and innovation spaces.

"Students want an education that prepares them to meet the challenges of the world today and the flexibility and skills to adapt to whatever emerges tomorrow," says Bonnie M. Patterson, COU President and CEO.

For statistics and more information, visit www.ouac.on.ca/statistics/

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SOURCE: Council of Ontario Universities

For further information:

Jennifer Grass
Senior Director, Communications and Public Affairs
416-979-4341 or 416-707-6787
jgrass@cou.on.ca