Access PSE

Participation in post-secondary education is a strong indicator of a diverse economy that is prepared to weather the volatility of resource prices. Today, Alberta has the lowest post-secondary participation rate in Canada (16.9%), meaning fewer young Albertans continue their schooling beyond high school1.

It is an unfortunate reality that certain groups are less likely to participate in post-secondary education. Youth from low-income families or with parents with low educational attainment are far less likely to complete a post-secondary program, as are Aboriginal or rural youth. Only 53% of children whose parents only held high school diploma credentials pursued some form of post-secondary education by age 24, compared to 80% of children whose parents held post-secondary credentials2.

But when costs for education increase, the effect is greater on lower-income Canadians than those who do not have to borrow to finance their degree. A system with higher tuition costs coupled with increased student loan availability does not create conditions that encourage participation by underrepresented groups – instead, they must weigh the costs of shouldering a large debt burden upon graduation with higher earning potential stemming from more education. These calculations become complicated for youth that have greater aversion to debt or have less access to information on increased earning potential.


Below is a visual representation of post-secondary education participation rates across Canada.

Town Hall

Check out a video recording of the town hall that took place on SUBstage on Tuesday, March 26.