Reality Check: Ontario shouldn’t be complacent when it comes to university attainment

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Ontario leads the world in terms of postsecondary attainment. But as the data shows, this has more to do with college attendance than university access.
Statistics Canada reports that half of Canadians between the ages of 25 and 64 have a college or university education. In Ontario, 56 per cent have attained a postsecondary credential. The average across member countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is 30 per cent. Of the OECD members used for comparison, Japan (44 per cent) and the United States (41 per cent) come closest to Ontario.
Is this an Ontario success story? While we have made significant accomplishments in access, our globe-leading performance has much to do with our community colleges. Approximately 28 per cent of Ontarians have a college diploma, compared to an OECD average of 9 per cent. There is a much less dramatic difference in the proportion of the population with a university education. In Ontario, it is 28 per cent, compared to 25 per cent in Japan and 31 per cent in the United States.
No question, when compared to other nations, a healthy number of Ontarians achieve a university degree. But there is more work to be done to ensure our institutions are accessible to every qualified student, while still offering a world-class education.
Source: Statistics Canada, Education Indicators in Canada: Fact Sheets; Education Indicators in Canada: An International Perspective 2011

This article originally appeared in the OCUFA Report. To receive stories like this every week in your inbox, please subscribe.

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