Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation

Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation

June 14, 2007 08:00 ET

Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation: Aboriginal Students Twice as Likely to Drop Out of Post-Secondary Studies or Skip Them Altogether

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN and SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN--(Marketwire - June 14, 2007) - Within two years of graduation, Aboriginal high school graduates are almost twice as likely as other Canadian students to either drop out of college or university studies or skip post-secondary education altogether, says The Class of 2003 High School Follow-Up Survey, published today by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation.

"The vast majority of new jobs being created today will be filled by college or university graduates," said Joseph Berger, a policy and research officer at the Foundation. "In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 20% of young adults are Aboriginal, and that proportion increases every year. Unless a greater number of young First Nations, Inuit and Metis people in these two provinces are able to access and succeed in post-secondary education, their provincial economies will soon be at a significant disadvantage."

The study, which surveyed Grade 12 students in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and New Brunswick two years after graduation, shows that only 54% of Aboriginal students had completed or were continuing post-secondary studies, compared with 73% of non-Aboriginal students. A further 10% of Aboriginal students had dropped out of college or university. The study confirms that Aboriginal students encounter particular barriers to post-secondary studies, such as being more likely to have to relocate from their home communities to access college or university, and being less likely to receive financial support from their families to help pay for their education.

The study also shows that an important reason why many Aboriginal students do not make it to post-secondary education is that they are more likely to drop out before reaching Grade 12. In general, the gap in post-secondary participation between Aboriginal peoples and other Canadians is even greater than that signified by this survey, which only surveyed youth who were in Grade 12 in 2003. However, this study strongly suggests that strategies designed to keep Aboriginal students in high school will pay off over time in terms of greater participation in college and university.

Noting that Aboriginal communities, as well as federal and provincial governments, have long been aware of the need for improvement in educational outcomes of Aboriginal youth, Norman Riddell, the Foundation's executive director and chief executive officer, emphasized the importance of new research that could help identify solutions.

"There have been a growing number of initiatives designed to help Aboriginal students complete high school and make a successful transition to higher education," Mr. Riddell said. "The Foundation itself is presently conducting pilot projects in Manitoba and British Columbia that are testing different strategies to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal students. While the results of these studies are not yet in, the Foundation hopes that its research will contribute to the creation of more opportunities for Aboriginal youth to access and succeed in post-secondary education."

The Class of 2003 High School Follow-Up Survey, as well as information about the Foundation's Making Education Work and LE,NONET pilot projects, is available on the Foundation's website at

The Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation is a private, independent organization created by an act of Parliament in 1998. It encourages Canadian students to strive for excellence and pursue their post-secondary studies. Each year, the Foundation distributes some $350 million in the form of bursaries and scholarships throughout Canada. Since its inception, it has awarded 800,000 bursaries, with a total value of $2.3 billion, to Canadian post-secondary students.

Contact Information

  • Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation
    Jaime Frederick
    Communications Advisor
    (514) 284-7240
    In Saskatchewan and Manitoba: Hollands Communications, Inc.
    Kathy Hollands
    (306) 306-955-4571 or (306) 270-9631 (cell)