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November 8, 2005
For immediate release

Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission -- Highlights From 2004 Survey of Class of 1999


Five years after graduation from Maritime universities, class of 1999 graduates have made the transition to the work force with varying degrees of success. And the degree of success depends, at least in part, on a graduate’s gender, field of study and where they were living in 2004.

These are some of the key highlights from the Survey of 1999 Maritime University Graduates in 2004, released today, November 8, 2005 by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. The survey highlights are part of a longitudinal survey exploring the themes of transition between the learning force and work force, student debt and mobility for the class.

“What we are seeing now in the five-year-out survey is evidence of career progression,” said Léandre Desjardins, acting chief executive officer of the commission.

The employment rate is up and now stands at 96 per cent, compared to 94 per cent in 2001. Graduates are earning 38 per cent more than in 2001, with an average salary in 2004 of $51,313. They are now more likely to have a permanent job, and more than half say they are working for the same employer as in 2001.

“These findings are encouraging, but preliminary analysis shows that substantial gaps continue to exist within the class. For example, men earn more on average than women, and graduates of applied or professional programs earn more than graduates of liberal arts programs,” said Dr. Desjardins.

The survey also found that graduates who had left the Maritimes are earning more than those who stayed.

“In this study, we were able to track student debt not only for the degree obtained in 1999, but also for any subsequent education,” said Sam Scully, vice-chair of the commission and chair of the advisory committee on information and analysis which oversaw the project. By 2004, two-thirds of 1999 graduates had borrowed money from government and/or other sources to finance their education. Some had borrowed in order to complete their 1999 degree, others for subsequent educational programs, and some people sought financial help for both.”

Dr. Scully said that, by 2004, graduates had accumulated an average debt of $25,832 and still owed $14,616 – a reduction of 43 per cent. But, again, the study uncovered differences among graduates – 17 per cent of graduates who had borrowed to finance their 1999 degree and/or further education still owed at least $30,000 in 2004.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission’s full report on the class of 1999, expected to be released in the spring of 2006, will further explore labour force transitions and how graduates are coping with debt repayment, both for loans taken to finance the 1999 degree as well as subsequent education. In addition, the report will investigate how mobility patterns have evolved since the last survey.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission was established in 1974. Its mission is to assist institutions and governments in enhancing the post-secondary learning environment. The 19 members of the MPHEC are drawn from the Maritime provinces, and represent higher education institutions, provincial governments, and the general public.

Five Years After University Graduation: Status of the Maritime Class of 1999 in 2004 - Survey Highlights is available at


• In 2004, the employment rate for the Class was 96%, up two percentage points since 2001.

• Five years after graduating, average earnings stood at $51,313, up 38% from 2001 (up 29% in constant 2004 dollars).

• Substantial earnings gaps based on gender, field of study and province/region of residence identified in 2001 remained at the five-year mark.

• In 2004, 82% of graduates employed in both time periods reported their job was permanent and 83% said their job was at least somewhat related to their field of study.

• By 2004, 59% had returned for further education.

• By 2004, graduates had borrowed a total of $25,832 to finance their 1999 degree and/or any educational programs taken since graduating in 1999. In 2004, graduates owed an average of $14,616 on these loans.

• In 2004, 17% of graduates who had borrowed to finance their 1999 degree and /or further education owed at least $30,000.

For more information, contact Dawn Gordon, Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, 506-453-2844, .

Media Contact: Jean Doherty
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