Toronto, September 16, 2009 – Students in low income neighbourhoods are 13 per cent less likely to apply to university than those in high income neighbourhoods according to a report released today by the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO). The study found that the gap in application rates over the last decade has remained relatively constant and perhaps has increased slightly. The report attributes this to the deregulation of tuition rates in the 1990s and scholarships based primarily on entry grades.
“This report puts concrete numbers behind what many in the field have long said – that family income plays a significant role in determining who applies to university,” said Dr. Ken Norrie, vice-president of research for the HEQCO. “This is important information that will help guide government and postsecondary institutions in ensuring opportunity for all of our young people.”
The study, University Participation and Income Differences: An Analysis of Applications by Ontario Secondary School Students, produced by McMaster University professors Martin D. Dooley, A. Abigail Payne and A. Leslie Robb and funded by HEQCO also found that living in a rural area reduces the likelihood of university application. Being close to a university was found to lead to higher application rates along with attending a school with higher level performance on the grade 9 math EQAO test results. Application rates are also slightly higher for students attending Catholic schools along with areas with a large East Asian population.
The study looks at students applying to university from publicly funded English secondary schools in Ontario from 1995 to 2005 along with socio-economic characteristics found in the Censuses from Statistics Canada from 1991 to 2006.
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.
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