This study reviewed over 40 programs in Ontario colleges and universities that were designed to increase recruitment, participation and retention of Aboriginal students in postsecondary education (PSE). It involved a literature review, site visits to 6 postsecondary institutions and qualitative interviews with program administrators and coordinators at 28 institutions across the province. Qualitative interviews were also conducted with students at selected institutions. A summary of the research findings is presented below. Overall, researchers found that, relative to only five years ago, colleges and universities in
Ontario have made significant progress in developing support programs for Aboriginal students. In 2004, a pan-Canadian study (Malatest, p. 23) looked at best practices in Aboriginal support programs. At that time, Ontario was in the formative stages of developing programs, particularly when compared with Manitoba and other Western provinces. Virtually all colleges and
universities in Ontario now have some form of support program. Furthermore, many postsecondary institutions have taken a holistic approach and have implemented a number of programs, each targeting different underlying causes of the lower incidence of PSE success among Aboriginal students. Among the programs offered are the following:
â€¢ Aboriginal student services programs,
â€¢ Aboriginal access programs,
â€¢ Aboriginal studies and Aboriginal designated programs,
â€¢ health care programs, and
â€¢ Aboriginal teacher education programs.
It should be noted that the research compiled in this report is largely qualitative. There is widespread agreement among the stakeholders interviewed that these types of programs are valuable; however, there was a distinct lack of outcome data available to allow the researchers to state that the programs reviewed had a â€œmeasurableâ€ and positive impact on Aboriginal studentsâ€™ postsecondary success. Nevertheless, where student outcomes were measured, the results were promising.
Despite the lack of quantitative evidence to support the impact of the programs, the researchers were able to infer that progress has been made on a number of fronts. In addition to the large number of institutions offering one or more of the above programs, in other institutions, Aboriginal management bodies are in place to help inform the design and implementation of the
programs. Aboriginal Elders are being consulted and are playing a more active role on college and university campuses. The number of courses being offered in the native languages of Ontarioâ€™s First Nations Peoples has increased, and the number of Aboriginal teachers available to teach and serve as role models has also increased.