The typical Queen’s student

As the university’s population evolves, the stereotype of the average student becomes increasingly difficult to define

As the university’s population grows, the typical Queen’s student is more difficult to define than you’d expect. 

Today’s average undergraduate student is most likely female (64.4 per cent women). That is, unless the student is in a Masters’ or PhD program, which have retained a male majority of 57 per cent. 

They’re also less and less likely to be white and rich. Visible minorities make up over a third of the student body (34.1 per cent in 2014), and 22.2 per cent of students come from a family with a reported annual income below $75,000. 

Although there’s some truth in the perception that Queen’s students hail predominantly from the Greater Toronto Area, over a fifth (21.9 per cent) also come from a town with less than 10,000 residents. 

The percentage of students with disabilities (13.3 per cent) has nearly doubled over a five-year time horizon. Other groups, such as first-generation students (5.7 per cent), Aboriginal students (2.3 per cent) and students who disclose that they’re non-heterosexual (6.8 per cent) remain smaller. 

As a component of a larger internationalization strategy, the University has made an effort to bring more international students to campus. They’re not necessarily from England or the Commonwealth nations — the largest group is from China, totaling 29 per cent of the entire international student population. 

These international students hail from 109 countries, and represent 8.3 per cent of the student population, with an objective of reaching 10 per cent by 2019. 

The mental and financial challenges associated with obtaining a degree may be a near-universal part of the Queen’s experience — but students at Queen’s are generally able to complete and pay for their education. 94.6 per cent of first-year students progress into their second year, and the seven-year completion rate for undergraduate programs is 87.7 per cent. These rates show a high degree of persistence, ranking among the highest completion rates in the province.

Numbers are similarly high for post-graduate students, with Masters and PhD five-year completion rates of 89.5 per cent and 77 per cent. 

Common perceptions of a heavy student loan burden don’t necessarily hold up either. 

Although approximately 34 per cent of Queen’s students receive Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) funding, only 2.5 per cent of students will default on these loans. It’s one of the lowest default rates in Ontario.

Of 1,149 graduating students that completed the Queen’s 2013 Exit Poll survey, 37 per cent said they would graduate with no debt.

Despite high completion rates, partying and alcohol consumption are still realities for the majority of Queen’s students. 83 per cent of all Queen’s students consumed alcohol in the fall term of 2008, with 77 per cent of first-year students choosing to indulge. 

Queen’s population has evolved substantially from its earliest days as a small Presbyterian college. While stereotypes about the typical student persist — some holding more truth than others — this character has become increasingly elusive on campus. Students at Queen’s don’t come from a single mould, and the stereotype doesn’t always fit. 

(Graphic by Ashley Quan)

The statistics in this article come from the following data sources: Queen’s 2014 Applicant Equity Census Results, 2013 Canada-Ontario Integrated Student Loan Default Rates and Queen’s 2014 Enrollment Report


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