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Canadians want an accessible, affordable and high-quality post-secondary sector

(Ottawa – September 2, 2019) Results from a national survey* commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) indicate that a large majority of Canadians value post-secondary education (PSE) and think cost should not be allowed to prevent anyone from pursuing it.

Key findings include:

  • Almost 8 in 10 Canadians agree that students have to borrow too much to pay for their PSE and the cost should never prevent anyone from pursuing an education;
  • Similarly, almost all Canadians (93%) would get a post-secondary degree if they did not have to pay tuition, confirming how much they value the education and recognize the barrier that cost creates;
  • Eight in ten say the effort and time spent getting a higher education is worthwhile, but only 65% think it is worth the cost, and only 31% definitely think so;
  • When informed that one in three PS instructors teach part-time or are on short-term contracts, over half believe this hurts the quality of education.

“The cost of PSE remains a major hurdle for students and Canadians don’t like it. But the problem is deeper than that and survey respondents recognized that fact,” says CAUT executive director David Robinson. “As governments have reduced funding for universities and colleges, more and more low-paid and tenuously-employed teachers have replaced full-time academics who are invested in the academic integrity of the institutions where they work. This is hurting the quality of education that students receive.”

CAUT is calling on all federal political parties to support PSE the way most Canadians want the government to support it, by:

  • Ensuring that every student who wants to go to college or university can go, regardless of their ability to pay (84%);
  • Investing more in full-time post-secondary teaching positions (85%);
  • Reducing class sizes at colleges and universities (64%);
  • Eliminating post-secondary tuition entirely (61%).

Media contact: Lisa Keller, Communications Officer, Canadian Association of University Teachers; 613-726-5186 (o); 613-222-3530 (c)


*Methodology – the survey was conducted online with 1500 Canadian residents aged 18 and over, from April 24-30. The margin of error for a comparable probability-based random-sample of the same size is +/- 2.53%, 19 times out of 20. The data were weighted according to census data to ensure that the sample matched Canada’s population according to age, gender, educational attainment and region. Totals may not add up due to rounding.