High school students continue to apply to Ontario universities in high numbers, and there has been a spike in the number of applicants seeking to return to school to upgrade their skills in response to the needs of the labour market, according to the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).
The number of secondary students who applied for university this year is 89,272, down slightly from 92,554 last year as a result of changes in demographics. This figure is up almost 28 per cent since 2004, when 72,972 high school students applied one year after the double cohort.
Early indicators show growth in the number of non-high school applicants — at 29,683, the number is up 10.5 per cent over the same date last year. This group of applicants has been growing steadily with a 35 per cent increase in 2013 over 2004, said COU.
This cohort includes people returning to university from the workforce, college students transferring to university, mature students and applicants from high schools in other provinces and overseas.
"University is the first choice for many thousands of students," says Max Blouw, chair of the COU and President of Wilfrid Laurier University. "In record numbers, people are recognizing that a university education is what employers are seeking in this recovering job market."
Even as the economic recovery continues to be slow after the global recession, university graduates experience high levels of employment: 86.5 per cent of those who graduated in 2010 had jobs six months after graduation, and 92.2 per cent were employed within two years.
Ontario university graduates also have higher earnings than those with any other level of education, earning $49,277 two years after graduation and $1.3 million more over a lifetime, said COU.
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