Students Nova Scotia


Press Releases & Updates

Opportunity for All? Exploring the social Barriers to Post-Secondary Education in Nova Scotia

Halifax, NS – A report released this morning by StudentsNS reviews the social barriers that exist for accessing post-secondary education. It concludes that more action must be taken to ensure every Nova Scotian has the opportunity to pursue higher education.

Opportunity for All?: Exploring the Social Barriers to Post-Secondary Education in Nova Scotia recommends initiatives and policy changes that would break down barriers for students, improving their lives and the communities across our province.

“We believe every Nova Scotian should be able to access post-secondary education, despite their background. To build a strong foundation for success, we have several recommendations based on credible research to invest in our students and the Province as a whole,” said Chair of StudentsNS and SMU student, Collette Robert. “A generation of educated leaders is a strong future for Nova Scotia.”

This report highlights the challenges for students knowing that a person’s socioeconomic background, ethnicity, language, culture, citizenship, level of parental education, disability, age, gender, and/or geographic origin may all influence the likelihood of pursuing PSE. Some specific groups addressed include Indigenous students and African Nova Scotian students. Recommendations to improve accessibility for all of these students include more comprehensive data collection on student demographics, creating a more inclusive and supportive public education system, reforming financial assistance so that it can really break down barriers, and promoting diversity on campuses.

“Addressing barriers to post-secondary education in Nova Scotia is difficult due to the limited datasets available, in large part due to students opting-out of self-identifying; however, the data that is available clearly indicates that there are numerous groups for whom post-secondary education is a continuous struggle to access fully and excel in,” said StudentsNS Vice-Chair and St. FX Student Annie Sirois. “The recommendations that StudentsNS has outlined, among them a ‘cradle to career’ approach, would be effective steps to breaking down these barriers.”

Given that access to post-secondary education is such a crucial determinant of social mobility in our modern economy, StudentsNS hopes this report will provide a deeper understanding on the lack of opportunities available for some Nova Scotians from historically oppressed or disadvantaged groups. A more educated Nova Scotia would be home to a more self-sufficient and independent population, all while greatly diminishing incidence of “disadvantage.” Nova Scotia has the potential to become a more unified province with a much stronger and truly “diversified” local economy.

The report was prepared by Bob Parker, former StudentsNS Director of Research, and reviewed by students from 6 campuses in Nova Scotia. The full version, summaries and a factsheet are available at:

Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents Nova Scotia post-secondary students. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, as well as the Kingstec and Annapolis Valley Campuses of the Nova Scotia Community College.

For more information, please contact:

Sophie Helpard, Executive Director
Phone: 905 714 5455


Collette Robert, Chair of StudentsNS

Kate Elliot