A Simple Model of Access and Capacity for Post-Secondary Schooling in Canada (Working Paper 40)
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This paper develops a simple model of the post-secondary education system in Canada that provides a useful basis for thinking about issues of capacity and access. It uses a supply-demand framework, where demand comes on the part of individuals wanting places in the system, and supply is determined not only by various directives and agreements between educational ministries and institutions (and other factors), but also the money available to universities and colleges through tuition fees. The supply and demand curves are then put together with a stylised tuition-setting rule to describe the “market” of post-secondary schooling. This market determines the number of students in the system, and their characteristics, especially as they relate to “ability” and family background, the latter being especially relevant to access issues. The manner in which various changes in the system – including tuition fees, student financial aid, government support for institutions, and the returns to schooling – are then discussed in terms of how they affect the number of students and their characteristics, or capacity and access.