Efforts to improve access, participation and attainment in higher education (HE) in Canada have been ongoing for decades. They span both the elementary and secondary levels of the school system, include both national and provincial policies/programmes and work at the national, provincial and community levels. These policies and programs have been designed for Canada’s highly diverse population. In the most current census, Canadians reported more than 200 ethnic origins and 200 first languages (Statistics Canada, 2011). This population includes groups and individuals that face a range of challenges in their efforts to access post-secondary studies and achieve success at the post-secondary level. These challenges consist of interacting barriers that may be academic, cultural/ethnic, financial, information-based and social in nature. This chapter looks at who participates in HE in Canada, who is under-represented and how the Canadian HE system is structured. It then explores how one province has managed to extend access to different groups, before outlining some of the challenges Canada faces going forward in the area of access to HE.
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