Project Details

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Access to Post-Secondary Education for Student Parents

By: Donna Lero, Mike Hoy, Trudy Smit Quosai, Trica van Rhijn and Leo Keating.

Project Overview
There is evidence that increased numbers of Canadians are balancing family, education and often employment demands. Approximately 8% of university students and 22% of college students have children (Holmes, 2005). It is important to study these student parents for at least three reasons. From a policy perspective, access and funding for post-secondary education (PSE) and development of a skilled workforce is a skills required to succeed in today's economy. Lastly, the well-being of student parents and their families can be enhanced by better educational attainment.

Project Design
To address these questions we employed a mixed methods design that incorporated secondary analysis of data from a number of national data sources (Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, Youth In Transition Survey, National Graduates Survey, and the Labour Force Survey) to derive information about student-parents' participation and completion of PSE. This represents the first-ever nationally representative data about trends in student-parent PSE participation over time. The data yields a description of student parents along with models for understanding the ways in which personal, academic and financial factors affect successful participation and completion of post-secondary education.

Research team
Dr. Donna Lero (FRAN), Dr. Mike Hoy (Economics), Trudy Smit Quosai (FRAN), Trica van Rhijn (FRHD), and Leo Keating (FRAN).

The quantitative analysis of 40 interviews with college and university student parents was completed between March and June, 2007. Thematic analysis of these interviews was used to extend, explain and challenge current theoretical models. The final report was submitted and presented to HRSDC in Nov. 2007.

This study was presented in June 2008 at the annual meeting of Canadian Economics Association, in Vancouver. Results of the mixed-methods analyses were presented at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences in Ottawa, in May 2009, as a winner in the HRSDC graduate student competition. The study will also be presented to the Canadian Education Research Association. The integrated final report/dissertation is expected to be completed in 2009.

To read a story about this project on the University of Guelph website, click here.

For more information about this study please contact Trudy Smit Quosai, Program Manager at