Study shows majority of New Brunswick post-secondary graduates stay here


For many years, the perception was that New Brunswick was losing many of its young, educated citizens after graduating from post-secondary education.

But the author of a recent college and university perseverance report in the province says that is now a misconception.

Ted McDonald, director of the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training, said the majority of graduates stay in the province.

In fact, McDonald’s said nearly 90 percent of New Brunswickers who study in the province are still here within a year of graduating.

McDonald believed the place mattered, but he was surprised how important it was.

This compares to 30 percent for out-of-province graduates and 34 percent for overseas graduates.

Ted McDonald, director of the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training, was the principal investigator of the graduate retention study. (A B)

As the report states, “New Brunswick is investing significantly in the education of post-secondary students. When qualified graduates leave the province, much of that investment is lost, as they take their human capital (and potential income) with them when they move ”.

Understanding who stays can help government shape policies to encourage graduates to stay, McDonald said Saint John Morning Information.

In fact, he said it was an investigation by the province into this very matter that had given the impetus to the research.

McDonald said there was also “quite a bit of variation” depending on the program.

“It’s probably good news for New Brunswick that nursing and paramedical services have the highest retention rates and have actually increased over the past two years.”

But fields like engineering and IT specialists have lower retention rates.

Grass is not necessarily greener

As an anecdote, McDonald’s said the impression has always been that many graduates “go to greener pastures in other provinces.”

“And so I think the biggest surprise we found when we did this project is where you come from when you enroll in these universities or community colleges matters a lot.”

Almost 90 percent of those who come from New Brunswick are still here a year after graduation.

“This genre goes against this kind of conventional wisdom that we just don’t keep our kids after graduation.”

The study did not examine the reasons why they stayed, however. The researchers didn’t talk to the students, they just used administrative data to track where the students went after graduation.

Opportunity, family, community

Sean McCullum believes there are three main reasons at play.

“Contrary to some self-defeating belief among New Brunswickers, there are a ton of opportunities here, especially for recent graduates,” said McCullum, who grew up in Quispamsis and graduated from St. Thomas in 2016.

A second consideration is being able to stay close to your family, McCullum said.

And the third motivation “is something that is happening in universities, especially small universities,” he said.

STU graduate Sean McCullum said he stayed in New Brunswick for three reasons: job opportunities, family and community ties. (Submitted by Sean McCullum)

“As a graduate of St. Thomas University, it was a small school, very tight-knit… So these are very strong ties. So one of the absolutely reasons I stay in the province, aside from the opportunities, the family that I have… is this community of people that I have met and come to know in the area. “

McDonald’s hopes to continue the study and determine how many graduates are still in New Brunswick over a longer period of time.

He wonders if there is “a critical mass that if we can keep you long enough, and you’ve invested in the place, you’ve bought the house, your kids are in school and you’re more likely to stay.” long-term. “

Understanding who is staying and why will help the province better target policies to retain those who have “the skills to keep our province going into the future.”

The same approach could also help retain graduates from other parts of Canada and abroad.

“Are we training enough people in the areas we need and are we able to keep them?” And so it ties into this much larger picture of provincial renewal, ”said McDonald.


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