Immigrants are largely behind Canada’s status as it stands out amongst the best-educated countries.

Canada can credit immigrants for making it one of the best-educated countries in the world.

Not only do many newcomers arrive with university degrees, their high expectations for their children’s academic achievements also appear to lead to the quest for higher education among their children, according to a new internal government survey.

The Immigration Department report, obtained through an access to information request, found 36 per cent of the children of immigrants aged 25 to 35 held university degrees, compared to 24 per cent of their peers with Canadian-born parents.

Among the top immigration source countries, more than 50 per cent of the children of immigrants from China and India graduated from university, while one-third of those born to Filipino immigrant parents finished their degrees.

By comparison, between 30 and 37 per cent of children to immigrants from Western Europe completed university, followed by those from Latin America and the Caribbean at a rate ranging from 23 to 28 per cent — about par with children with Canadian-born guardians, the report said.

The report also determined that the parents’ expectations regarding education matters, and immigrant families, particularly Asian families tend to have higher educational expectations for their children, on average, than families with Canadian parents.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranked Canada second only to Korea as the highest educated nation in the world in 2016, with over 60 per cent of Canadians who have a post-secondary education.

According to another study, 54.2 per cent of new immigrants in the prime working age between 35 and 44 had at least a bachelor’s degree in the cohorts arriving between 2011 and 2016, up from 30.5 per cent in the 1990s. In comparison to this, only 27.9 per cent of non-immigrants have the same level of education.

While 46.5 per cent of visible-minority women and 45 per cent of their spouse in this age group in Canada are university degree-holders, only 33.8 per cent of white Canadian women and less than a quarter of white Canadian men have at least a bachelor’s degree.

A professor, named Jedwab, also said in this case that Canada is the most university-educated country in the planet and apparently immigrants and in particular those arriving here since the beginning of the 21st century are contributing to this.

The aspirations of immigrant parents can be incredibly powerful in steering their children to success, especially if they are themselves highly educated but struggle to return to their old professions and make ends meet after coming to Canada.

Children of immigrants are observed to do as well or better as adults in the labour market than their peers of Canadian-born parents because of they have higher educational attainment and are more likely to be in professional occupations than in blue collar jobs.

A 2011 Statistics Canada survey found that across all age cohorts, the second generation of immigrants had higher percentages than the next generation obtaining at least bachelors’ degrees.

The Immigration Department analysis said the average earnings of the employed children of immigrants tended to be 9 to 13 per cent higher than those of workers with Canadian-born parents.

York University education professor Carl James said policy-makers cannot overlook the underlying circumstances such as racism and discrimination that lead to the different academic attainment and economic performances among various immigrant groups.

James, the Jean Augustine Chair in Education, Community and Diaspora at York said that black people have the same high expectations and motivation to achieve. It’s not sufficient to say some parents are more motivated than others. Doing so, we focus less on the socio-economic conditions, racism and xenophobia different ethnic groups and generations find themselves in.

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