The Government of Alberta recently released their survey of Alberta’s post-secondary graduates that they do once every two years and there is as always some interesting facts about the class of 2008 that you might not have known. You can download it for yourself here (PDF), or just grab the highlights here (also a PDF).

A trend that has continued is the background of graduates parents – with 70% of post-secondary graduates having parents who attended post-secondary education at some level. This is a strong trend that has held true for many decades and helps give some background at what needs to be overcome in order to increase our post-secondary participation rate – how do we get more Albertans whose parents have no post-secondary experience to enroll in university, college or in a technical institute?

We also saw that the population of First Nations, M├ętis or Inuit graduates remains shockingly low, with only 3% of graduates considering themselves as Aboriginal. Comparing that to general aboriginal population in Alberta of 6% and considering how young our aboriginal demographic is it is clear we have a lot of work to do.

Those who graduate tend to be satisfied with their education, with 91% satisfied with the overall quality of their educational experience. They think it is worth it too, with 86% believing it was worth the financial cost to them and their families. There were two worrying but expected trends with that number – the higher a graduate’s income the more likely they thought it was worth the financial cost, and the lower a graduate’s debt the more likely they thought it was worth it.

Delving deeper into student debt, we see that 44% of undergraduates received government student loans and that 30% of those borrowed more than $25,000. Graduates from our research universities borrowed on average $22,195. And not everybody borrowed only from the government, with 34% borrowing from private sources like banks or their family. Altogether 63% of undergraduates graduated with student debt.

Most received a scholarship at some point to help offset those costs and debt. Indeed, 79% of undergraduates received a scholarship – likely due in large part to Alberta’s fantastic Alexander Rutherford scholarship program and other needed scholarships – but most awards were less than $5,000 which won’t even cover tuition for their first year.

Another interesting fact springing from the survey was how many of our graduates remain in Alberta. Most don’t relocate after graduation at all – 70% of graduates from our research universities stayed in their community. Of the 30% that moved most stayed in Alberta.

Looking over the survey results it is important that we stress who it surveyed and more importantly who it did not. As a survey of graduates of our institutions it is important to stress that this leaves out those who leave post-secondary before graduation and those who never go in the first place. When determining what we are doing right and where we need to improve our system it is just as important we take into account those who we are not serving well as much as those who have received their degree.

Finally, it was interesting to see where graduates, upon reflection, got the best information in deciding what program and institution to attend. The most popular answer? Institutions’ websites, followed closely by parents and family. We can’t provide a link to your family, but if you are interested in checking out our institutions click on one of the links below.

University of Alberta
University of Calgary
University of Lethbridge