policy statement improving access through early intervention

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Category: Adopted: Reviewed: Amended: Repealed: WHEREAS:

ACCESSIBILITY March 22, 2006 n/a n/a n/a

CASA believes that any academically qualified student with the desire to pursue post-secondary education should not face a barrier - financial, social, political, physical, cultural, or otherwise. There is near universal recognition of the tremendous benefits of being a post-secondary graduate, including higher lifetime earnings, better health, and a more fulfilling work environment. Still the rewards of higher education reach far beyond private dividends. Post-secondary education provides immeasurable returns to society, community, and family. Intergenerationally, parental education is a key determinant of a child’s choice to pursue post-secondary. In our communities, higher educational attainment is linked closely to reduced crime, dependence on social assistance, increased volunteerism, greater voting rates, and increased civic involvement. A highly educated and skilled population is absolutely fundamental to active citizenship and social development while driving innovation, competition and economic prosperity. Yet, while overall post-secondary participation rates have surged in recent decades1, participation by particular segments of the Canadian population has remained virtually stagnant. University participation rates of youth from low-income families have remained significantly and persistently low, with less than 25% of youth from low and modest income families attending university as compared to 50% of youth from Canada’s highest income bracket.2 What is more, individuals from families without a tradition of post-secondary education are 3 times less likely to attend university as the children of university-educated parents.3
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BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Labour Force Statistics, August 2001. In 2001, on 19.5% of 18-21 year olds from Canada’s lowest income families (less than $25,000 annually), 23.3% of lower middle income families ($25,000-$50,000 annually), and 25% of middle income families ($50,000-$75,000) attend university. Statistics Canada, Participation in Post-Secondary Education in Canada: Has the Role of Parental Income and Education Changed over the 1990s?, 2005.

In order to realize the individual and societal benefits of higher education, there must be the opportunity and ability to not only access post-secondary but to continue on to graduation. It is clear that more must be done to promote and expand equal education opportunities in Canada long before the university and college application process. Many potential attendees continue to overestimate the cost of post-secondary, while discounting the enormous benefits of pursuing an education at university or college or in a trade.4 Financial barriers must remain the focus of federal efforts to open post-secondary to all Canadians, but there must also be a cohesive effort to diminish the disparity in access and success for those students underrepresented in our post-secondary institutions, including low-income, first-generation, and Aboriginal students. CASA believes that the federal government can help to break down the barriers of access through a sustainable and large-scale program of early intervention to actively encourage students of all backgrounds to apply, attend and graduate post-secondary studies. To successfully promote access and opportunity, early intervention must provide a long-term, coordinated approach to early-notice, targeted merit- and need-based financial assistance, together with academic support, mentorship, tutoring, and information awareness initiatives.

BE IT RESOLVED THAT: CASA encourage the federal government to invest in Early Intervention Programs through partnerships with other governments and through additional dedicated funding for Targeted Nonrepayable Assistance, Academic Support, Mentorship, and Campus Exposure Programs.


Statistics Canada, Ross Finnie, Christine Laport and Eric Lascelles, Family Background and Access to Post-Secondary Education: What Happened over the 1990s?, 2004. College participation rates are relatively equal across socio-economic levels, which is generally attributed to lower cost and greater geographical distribution of community colleges. Statistics Canada, Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics 4 Millennium Scholarship Foundation, Price of Knowledge, 2004,

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