On Campus

B.C. program helps wealthy apply to university

Student aid plan panned for investing in West Vancouver

A B.C. program intended to help students less likely to go to university is being panned for also investing resources in privileged neighborhoods. Funded through the Canada Student Loans Program, Life After High School counsels students on choosing programs and applying for university or college, and even pays for one application.

Targeting those “less likely to apply to postsecondary education,” $10,000 is being invested in high schools with low transition rates to college or university. However, one of the high schools that is benefiting from the funding is raising eyebrows. West Vancouver Secondary School where 85 per cent of students already apply to university, is on Life After High School’s list. West Vancouver is one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in B.C., and 40 per cent of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, double the rate for the rest of the province.

Other areas with much lower transition rates, such as in East Vancouver and parts of the Fraser Valley, have not been selected for the program. “It’s disappointing that the Life After High School project has selected West Vancouver Secondary School to provide support, financial assistance, and guidance to young people who are unlikely to face many barriers to attending postsecondary education,” Connie Gibbs, who gives workshops on financial aid, told the Globe and Mail.

Life After High School’s research director, Reuben Ford, told the Globe that the way statistics were gathered may have distorted the data. The rate at which a high school’s students transition to college or university was calculated using only public institutions within the province. Students who go away to Queen’s or McGill, down south to the U.S., or even to a private institution in B.C. were not counted. Measuring the data this way appears to have artificially lowered the transition rate for West Van.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.