Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission

Most graduates seek more education within five years (10/06/23)

NB 1049

June 23, 2010

HALIFAX, N.S. (CNB) - Seventy per cent of Maritime university graduates who earned their first degree in 2003 enrolled in a second educational program within five years.

The finding was made in a report released today by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC).

The report states that graduates who pursued further study usually did so for employment reasons or, to a lesser extent, for self-improvement. Those studies, however, required investing additional time and money.

Five Years On: A Survey of Class of 2003 Maritime University Graduates - Report on Key Findings Among First Degree Holders, examines graduate employment, further education trends, financial status and satisfaction with employment and education.

By 2008, 78 per cent of first degree holders borrowed to finance their education, including that degree and subsequent education. Graduates who borrowed relied on government, banks, family members and other sources. They borrowed an average of $31,047, with 46 per cent borrowing $30,000 or more.

Compared with graduates of the Class of 1999, the number of students who borrowed increased by five percentage points, and the average amount borrowed increased by two per cent.

Five years after their first degree, 23 per cent of those who borrowed still owed at least $30,000, while 28 per cent had paid off the whole amount. Repayment status was strongly linked to the total borrowed: of those able to repay their debt, 60 per cent had borrowed less than $15,000.

Including those who did not borrow, 45 per cent of the Class of 2003 were free of student debt by 2008. Compared with the Class of 1999, this was a drop of five percentage points.

Graduates also made progress in employment. Between 2005, when they were previously surveyed, and 2008, many more were working full-time and in permanent positions. Earnings increased $12,094, or 25 per cent, to $49,215, with 70 per cent employed in management or positions that required a university education.

One of the most influential factors on outcomes was the type of first degree. Because more than 80 per cent of liberal arts and sciences graduates pursued further study, compared to less than 60 per cent of applied or professional program graduates, they often accumulated more debt and were less likely to be debt-free after five years. Liberal arts and sciences graduates also earned less, on average, than their applied or professional program peers.

The Maritime provinces retained about the same, or slightly more, graduates. According to Mireille Duguay, chief executive officer, MPHEC, net retention of graduates five years after completion of their first degree was 61 per cent for Prince Edward Island, 79 per cent for Nova Scotia and 83 per cent for New Brunswick.

Compared to the Class of 1999, net retention was unchanged for Prince Edward Island, up five percentage points for Nova Scotia, and up 10 percentage points for New Brunswick.

The vast majority of graduates said the investment in their education was worthwhile.

"Five years after graduation, eight in 10 graduates said their university education was worth the time invested, and seven in 10 said it was worth the financial investment," said Duguay.

The MPHEC was established in 1974 to help institutions and governments improve post-secondary education. Its 20 members are drawn from the Maritime provinces, and they represent higher education institutions, provincial governments and the public.


MEDIA CONTACT: Dawn Gordon, Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, 506-453-2844,