Recent media reports mislead viewers about labour market demand and outcomes for university graduates. The Association of Universities and Colleges in Canada reports that from July 2008 to July 2012 -- despite a difficult economy -- there was a net increase of 700,000 new jobs for university graduates nationally, while the available jobs for those with no postsecondary education decreased by more than 640,000 during the same period.
The facts are that Canadian university graduates are securing good jobs, and the income premium for university graduates is growing. The average income for English and French-language majors with a university degree is well above $50,000 annually. History and biology majors both have average earnings above $60,000. Graduates of computer and information sciences and social sciences have average earnings pushing $70,000 a year. In business, average earnings are close to $80,000.
Tuition has risen in the last decade, but so has student aid from governments and universities. Using constant dollars, the average student debt load in Canada has not changed in the last 12 years and more than 40 per cent of students graduate debt-free.
Local data bears this finding out. A 2009 Council on Post-Secondary Education survey of 7,025 recent university and college graduates in Manitoba found that 61 per cent reported having no debt at the time of the survey (four to 10 months after graduating). …