Feb 102014

Are Canadian Universities Becoming More Americanized?

Females and youth of Asian ethnicity are more likely to gain access to prestigious Ontario universities than males and self-identified Aboriginals and Blacks, according to a new study published in the Canadian Review of Sociology.

The report, Effectively Maintaining Inequality in Toronto, by McMaster University professor Scott Davies, shows that gender and racial inequalities play a significant role in determining which postsecondary institution a student will attend.

The study notes that similar patterns have long been recognized in the United States, where the privileged few go to great lengths to access top universities. This is particularly exemplified in the long-established Ivy League culture.

Canada’s best-resourced research universities—the ‘U15’—tend to be wealthier due to their own fundraising efforts and greater ability to win large research grants, Davies says. Nonetheless, these institutions, e.g. the University of Toronto, McMaster, Waterloo and Queen’s, have been pressuring governments for 20 years “to fund them at levels higher than other universities, to permit them to raise their tuition to unprecedented levels, and/or to become semi-private.”

This raises serious concerns about widening racial imbalances and deepening socioeconomic rifts in this country. If the impact is anything like what has been experienced in the US, young people’s choices as to which Canadian university to attend may have far-reaching consequences for their ultimate quality of life.

Access the Davies, Moldonado, and Zarifa study

See the latest issue of the Canadian Review of Sociology