Financial incentives and career education increase enrolment in higher education, Study

November 06, 2012
FTD PSI Report Cover

Today, the Social Research and Demonstration Corporation (SRDC) released a report showing that offering career education and an early guarantee of financial aid to high-school students had significant impacts on their enrolment in post-secondary studies. 

Offering enhanced workshops on career education in the last three years of high school to Grade 10 students from lower-income, lower-education families:

- increased from 61 to 75 per cent the proportion enrolling in post-secondary education, as seen in Francophone schools in New Brunswick;
- increased from 80 to 89 per cent the proportion of youth graduating high school and from 22 to 30 per cent the proportion enrolling in university, in Anglophone schools in New Brunswick;
- increased from 17 to 29 per cent the proportion enrolling in community college, in Manitoba schools.

The early promise of an $8,000 bursary for post-secondary education when made to New Brunswick students from lower-income, lower-education families:

- increased from 61 to 76 per cent the proportion enrolling in post-secondary education, in Francophone schools; and
- increased from 57 to 66 per cent the proportion enrolling in post-secondary education, in Anglophone schools.

The interventions were tested in schools between 2004 and 2008 as part of the Future to Discover project, which was established to see whether such approaches incite more students to participate in post-secondary education – especially those from lower-income groups, 50 per cent of whom typically do not pursue their studies beyond high school.

Future to Discover was rigorously evaluated with some 5,400 students in 51 high schools in Manitoba and New Brunswick.

The evaluation includes a detailed benefit-cost analysis that found Learning Accounts in particular to be very cost-effective, due to its low administrative cost. It generated $2.00 to $3.40 in benefits to society for each dollar cost to government.

“With the expected skills shortages that Canada will be facing in coming years, more must be done to get all students to see themselves as potential post-secondary students” noted Jean-Pierre Voyer, SRDC president. “Future to Discover levels the playing field for many students who traditionally don’t get to access post-secondary education.” 

“There are promising signs that Future to Discover’s interventions encourage many young people to go further with their education. We are seeing some of the most pronounced effects among students who have historically been leaving education early, such as those from lower-income families and boys” said Reuben Ford, SRDC’s research director for the project. 

Future to Discover was launched in 2003 with the funding of the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the support of the New Brunswick and Manitoba governments. The project has been evaluated using a rigorous experimental design, where students were assigned randomly to a program group trying out one or more of the new interventions, or to a comparison group. A briefing note on the project is available here.

The report and executive summary on the post-secondary impacts of the Future to Discover project are available here.

SRDC is a non-profit research organization, created specifically to develop, field test, and rigorously evaluate new programs.

For interviews on Future to Discover, contact:

Reuben Ford (English inquiries)
Research Director, SRDC
604-601-4082 | rford@srdc.org 

Jean-Pierre Voyer (French inquiries)
SRDC President
613-237-3169 | jpvoyer@srdc.org

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