A report released on Wednesday has discovered that young immigrant students are beating their Canadian-born counterparts in terms of educational outcomes.

The Statistics Canada study examined the regional differences in the math and reading skills of immigrant children aged 15, as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) between 2000 and 2012. It also examined regional differences in high-school and university completion rates among young immigrants who moved to Canada before the age of 15 using data from the National Household Survey (NHS).

The study drew comparisons among immigrant youth residing in different regions of Canada, as well as between immigrant youth and the children of Canadian-born parents (also known as third- or higher generation individuals).

The report found that the average math PISA scores of immigrant students aged 15 ranged from 554 in British Columbia, to 494 in the combined region of Manitoba and Saskatchewan – an overall difference of 60 points.

Among third- or higher-generation pupils, the highest average score was Quebec (545) and the lowest was among the Atlantic Provinces (505), with an overall difference of 40 points between them.

In these same regions, along with a number of others, immigrants had significantly higher PISA math scores than third- or higher-generation children.

The study found that PISA reading scores also varied across regions, and were in fact lower than third- or higher-generation children in near enough every region. However, the study notes that a lower level of reading among immigrant students partly reflects the fact that the majority of them know neither English nor French as their first language.

Interestingly, the report found that in youth who immigrated to the country before the age of 15, both high school and university completion rates were higher than those of third- or higher-generation individuals.

When observing the country as a whole through the PISA data, StatCan found 40 percent of immigrants aged 25-29 were in possession of a university degree in 2011, compared to just 26 percent among third- or higher-generation individuals within the same age group.

Provincially, British Columbia had the highest proportion of immigrants in possession of a degree in 2011 with 44 percent, followed by Ontario (41%). Immigrant completion rates were lower in the combined region of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (29%), along with Quebec (32%).

On the other hand, University completion rates of third- or higher-generation students ranged from 28 percent in Ontario to 21 percent in British Columbia and Alberta.

The report also uncovered a gap in students’ plans for graduation. Approximately 81 percent of immigrant students across the entire country reported they were expecting to graduate from university, compared to just 60 percent of third- or higher generation students reporting the same expectation.

StatCan also found that regional patterns in the educational outcomes of students born in Canada, but whose parents are immigrants, were similar to those of third- or higher generation individuals.

An observation of the regional differences among the immigrants’ home countries could explain, in part, why some regions had much higher university completion rates than others. A number of studies have demonstrated that immigrants from South and East Asia are more likely to have higher educational outcomes than those from Southeast Asia, Southern Europe, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

Overall, the report concludes that immigrants possess more high school and university education than their native Canadian counterparts, and that across the country, parents of immigrant children possess a higher level of education than fellow Canadian-born parents.

Image via Shutterstock.

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