Higher Education

, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 323–352

Racial origin and student retention in a Canadian University

  • J. Paul Grayson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1003229631240

Cite this article as:
Grayson, J.P. Higher Education (1998) 36: 323. doi:10.1023/A:1003229631240


In the United States, research into the relationship between racial origin and university attrition has a relatively long history. In such research it has usually been found that particularly Black students and those of Hispanic origin have far lower retention rates than White students and those of Asian origin. In Canada, however, it has only been in recent years that large numbers of non-Whites from primarily British Commonwealth countries have immigrated to Canadian cities. As a result, there has been no investigation of race and student retention in Canadian universities.

In this article, attention will focus on the first year voluntary and involuntary withdrawal of students of various racial origins enrolled full-time at York University, Canada's third largest university, located in Toronto. Students who withdraw involuntarily are those who because of low academic standing are debarred from continuing for a second year. Information for the study was obtained through end-of-year surveys carried out in 1993, 1994, and 1995 and from administrative records.

In general it was found that differences in overall retention rates for Blacks and students of South Asian, Chinese, ‘other’ non-European, and European origins are small. Moreover, a logistic regression analysis indicated that while racial origin is not a predictor of voluntary withdrawal from university at the end of first year, it has a slight effect on involuntary withdrawal.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Paul Grayson
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Social ResearchYork University, 257 SSBNorth YorkCanada

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