One of HEQCO's central research priorities is to improve access to higher education for non-traditional and under-represented groups, including first-generation students, students with disabilities, low-income students, Aboriginal students and students whose first language is not English.
Many institutions have programs geared toward increasing postsecondary accessibility and improving retention rates among underrepresented students, however, oftentimes rigorous program evaluation methods are not in place to reliably measure the effectiveness of such programs. In addition, even if program evaluation techniques have been successfully integrated into the delivery of an intervention, individual institutions may not have the capacity or resources to share best practices with the greater postsecondary sector.
To address these challenges, HEQCO recently initiated a partnership – the Access and Retention Consortium (ARC) – with six institutions. Researchers from Queen's University, University of Ottawa, University of Waterloo, Mohawk College, Centennial College and the Economic Policy Research Initiative (EPRI) are each administering and evaluating the effectiveness of an intervention intended to impact access to, and persistence in, higher education for under-represented groups.
Most of these projects are multi-year and involve a longitudinal component. However, the specifics of each intervention, the potential for scalability, the target population and the primary variables of interest differ widely among the institutions.
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