Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission

University participation high in Maritimes (09/06/24)

NB 898

June 24, 2009

FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Maritime provinces' reputation for having a high university participation rate was supported by a report released today by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

The report, University Participation: A Maritime Perspective, found that universities in the region attract high numbers of students from within and outside the Maritimes, and a high proportion of Maritime youth aged 18-24 attend university here or elsewhere in Canada.

Measuring the proportion of the population that enrols in university is an important method for governments, universities and the public to get a sense of whether qualified students have access to a university education. Given its link to future educational achievements, it is also a marker of future economic prosperity.

During the past 25 years, overall participation in Maritime universities has more than doubled to 34 per cent, eight points greater than the national average. Overall participation rates by province were: New Brunswick, 28 per cent; Nova Scotia, 39 per cent; and Prince Edward Island, 25 per cent.

"What we have shown in this paper is that no single measure of participation will accurately cover all the questions and perspectives on this issue," said Mireille Duguay, chief executive officer of the commission. "Anyone engaged in dialogue about access and participation will need to take into account, for example, the geographic origin of students."

Duguay said that students from outside the region make up about 27 per cent of enrolment, contributing to high overall participation in Maritime universities relative to the number of Maritime youth. This effect is strongest in Nova Scotia.

"From another perspective, however, we found that if we look at Maritimers who enrol in university anywhere in Canada, participation is also at or above the national average," said Duguay.

The paper explores other important factors, such as the participation of women increasing faster than that of men from the early 1980s to the present, leading to today's 10-percentage-point difference between the sexes.

University Participation: A Maritime Perspective is available on the Maritime Province's Higher Education Commission's website.

The paper is a result of the Measures of Student Progress and Outcomes project, a working group of institutional researchers from six universities in the region that is helping the commission develop areas of measurement, including persistence, graduation rates, and course success. The working group is funded in part by the Canadian Council on Learning.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission was established in 1974 to help institutions and governments enhance the post-secondary learning environment. The commission's 19 members are from the Maritime provinces, and represent higher education institutions, provincial governments and the general public.


MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn Gordon, Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, 506-444-5466, e-mail: