Poor not put off by rise in costs

March 18, 2005

A decade of tuition fee increases has not deterred poor Canadian students from going to university, a report suggests.

Just under a fifth of 18-to-24-year-olds from low-income families - those earning less than C$25,000 (£10,800) a year - enrolled at university in 1993, Statistics Canada says. Eight years later, about the same proportion attended even though average fees had climbed 77 per cent to C$3,577.

The figures lend support to university administrators who advocate raising fees to offset government cuts. Heather Munro-Blum, principal of McGill University, has argued that higher fees do not necessarily deter working-class students.

For all income levels, the attendance rate held at about 30 per cent.

Students from families with an income of more than C$100,000 had a rate of 49 per cent in 1993 and 46 per cent in 2001.

The Canadian Federation of Students said the persistent gap between rich and poor shows that the Government had made no progress in widening access.

But parental education is more important than income in determining university attendance, the report found. In 2001, the enrolment rate for young adults with university-educated parents was 50 per cent, and 17 per cent for youth with high school-educated parents.

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