A new University of Saskatchewan report shows that money is not the most significant factor in the accessibility of post-secondary education.
The Accessibility and Affordability Report says that children from low-income families, rural communities, aboriginals and people with disabilities are less likely to attend a post-secondary school. But it also states the importance parents’ backgrounds play in their children’s future. The reasoning, according to the study, is that “having parents with post-secondary education creates a culture within the home that values higher education.”
The survey shows that those who are most likely to attend university include: youth who have parents with post-secondary education, the children of immigrants, students who are immigrants themselves and people from urban areas. These findings present a unique challenge to the U of S in terms of accessibility, as Saskatchewan has the highest low-income and rural populations in Canada.
Rather than focusing solely on financial support, the report suggests that engaging children as early as middle school and continuing to do so throughout high school is crucial in preparing them for post-secondary. Even in the case of two youths from low-income families, the child of parents with post-secondary education has a higher chance of attending university, according to the report.
The report, released Jan. 26, also highlights the different ways in which today’s students fund post-secondary education. Over the past 40 years in Canada, there has been an overall increase in students working while attending school and taking out loans, but a decrease in parental monetary contributions.
In fact, an estimated 57 per cent of students at the U of S seek student loans on a yearly basis. This statistic doesn’t include those who benefit from tax-credits, scholarships and RESPs — a group that has grown significantly over the past 10 years. The study claims that for students who take advantage of these programs, rises in tuition are not as heavy-hitting.
The rise in the cost of education could discourage some prospective students from applying to attend university, the study shows. However, the reality for those who plan on attending the U of S is more hopeful: from 2004 to 2010, there has been a 48 per cent increase in bursaries offered by the university, and most graduates are able to pay off 43 per cent of their loans after two years.