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Dale Kirby: Invitation to speak

Dale Kirby

By Heidi Wicks

Dr. Dale Kirby was invited to appear before the Government of Canada’s Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology in Ottawa on March 25.

The committee is examining the current barriers to participation in post-secondary education, such as geography, family income levels, means of financing for students, debt levels and challenges faced specifically by Aboriginal students.

The Canada Student Loans and Grants Programs, Canada Access Grants, Canada Learning Bonds and Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and their effectiveness are also being considered. The committee is also evaluating the current mechanisms for funding scientific research in post-secondary and related institutions and the commercialization of such research.

Dr. Kirby’s work in post-secondary studies has been featured in Maclean’s magazine. His blog, Adventures in Post-Secondary Education (, is devoted to the identification and discussion of major issues, policies, practices, problems and research in Canadian post-secondary education.

His passion for post-secondary issues crept into the capital city during his discussion.

“It pleases me greatly to know that your committee has taken up the most important and timely issue of access to post-secondary education in Canada,” said the assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. “Amongst the population aged 25-34, no less than 56 per cent of individuals in this age group have completed a college or university program.

“While the system is more accessible today than just a generation ago, to grow our enrolments further we must have public policy that is specifically designed to address the impediments to participation that have existed for Canadians who have been traditionally excluded,” he continued, citing distance and cost barriers amongst prospective students from rural and isolated areas as a reason for decreased enrolment.

Dr. Kirby was pleased with the vibrancy of the discussion following his talk.
“The Senators who I was lucky to have an audience with are mostly retired educators, so I was discussing these issues of access with people who are similarly passionate about education,” he said.

This wasn’t Dr. Kirby’s first presentation to a Canadian Senate Committee regarding access to post-secondary education. In March 1997, he presented to an earlier Senate committee formed to investigate access to post-secondary education.

He notes, “In some ways my work in the area of student access has come full circle, and I feel lucky to be continuing my research and advocacy in this area of education.”