The Post-Secondary Education Participation Survey was developed to provide basic indicators on access to post-secondary education, persistence in post-secondary education and post-secondary financing in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Human Resources Development Canada's (HRDC) Harmonized Canada Student Loans Program.
Data release – September 10, 2003
This survey has been discontinued as of 2008. The data are now collected by the Access and Support to Education and Training Survey (ASETS, record number 5151).
The Post-Secondary Education Participation Survey was developed to provide basic indicators on access to post-secondary education, persistence in post-secondary education and post-secondary financing in order to assess the effectiveness and efficiency of Human Resources Development Canada's (HRDC) Harmonized Canada Student Loans Program. To do so, PEPS collected information from 18 to 24 year olds (17 -- 24 in Quebec) in order to:
Measure impact of secondary school withdrawal/non-completion and marks during the final year in secondary studies on access to post-secondary;
Measure access to post-secondary education;
Measure the impact of student loans on accessibility of post-secondary education;
Measure impact of parental socio-economic status on post-secondary accessibility;
Measure characteristics of post-secondary programs pursued;
Measure post-secondary withdrawal/non-completion;
Measure impact of student debt on completion rates;
Identify the mechanisms through which students finance post-secondary education;
Measure accessibility of student loans, use of student loans and student indebtedness for those who have initiated post-secondary studies;
Measure of awareness of student loans program for those who never attended post-secondary studies;
Evaluate adequacy of student financing through examination of tuition fees, other education costs and major monthly expenses of current students;
Measure current labour-force activity of current students, post-secondary completers and non-completers and youth not participating in post-secondary education;
Profile socio-demographic characteristics of those who are: not participating in post-secondary education, have/are participating in post-secondary and have/had a student loan or those who have/are participating in post-secondary and have not had a student loan.
The Post-secondary Education Participation Survey (PEPS) was administered in February and March of 2002 to a sub-sample of the dwellings in the Labour Force Survey (LFS -- Survey #3701) sample. The LFS is a monthly household survey of a sample of individuals who are representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. These groups together represent an exclusion of approximately 2% of the population aged 15 or over.
The planning for the PEPS was based partly on a feasibility report, and a planning report. The PEPS was designed with the assistance of a subject-matter specialist working on behalf of HRDC (with the exception of section G). The PEPS underwent focus group testing managed by the Questionnaire Development Resource Centre (QDRC) (with the exception of section G). Section F of the PEPS underwent further review by the QDRC.
The survey was then programmed in order to be collected using Computer-assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) and then was tested internally to ensure its proper functioning. Once programmed, the PEPS was then pilot tested in the Halifax and Montreal Regional Offices (except section G) on a sample of approximately 489 (395 completed interviews) in September 2001.
Section G, which is loosely based on the Survey of Approaches to Educational Planning (SAEP -- Survey # 4442), was developed by the project manager working on SAEP and was added at the request of Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC).
This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.
The PEPS was administered in February and March 2002 to a sub-sample of the dwellings in the February 2002 Labour Force Survey (LFS) sample, and therefore its sample design is closely tied to that of the LFS. Because the PEPS was a supplement to the LFS, the frame used is the LFS frame.
The LFS is a monthly household survey whose sample of individuals is representative of the civilian, non-institutionalized population 15 years of age or older in Canada's ten provinces. Specifically excluded from the survey's coverage are residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut, persons living on Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces and inmates of institutions. These groups together represent an exclusion of approximately 2% of the population aged 15 or over.
The LFS sample is based upon a stratified, multi-stage design employing probability sampling at all stages of the design. The design principles are the same for each province.
The LFS employs a panel design whereby the entire monthly sample of dwellings consists of six panels, or rotation groups, of approximately equal size. Each of these panels is, by itself, representative of the entire LFS population. All dwellings in a rotation group remain in the LFS sample for six consecutive months after which time they are replaced (rotated out of the sample) by a new panel of dwellings selected from the same or similar clusters.
The PEPS used five of the six rotation groups in the February 2002 LFS sample, the birth rotation being excluded. For the PEPS, the coverage of the LFS was modified to include only members of the household aged 17 to 24 in Quebec and 18 to 24 in the other provinces.
For households responding to the LFS and comprising one or more PEPS-eligible individuals, the next stage of data collection was to administer the PEPS. However, the following households were excluded from the PEPS collection: 1) households that were pre-identified as possibly involved in the Youth In Transition Survey (YITS -- Survey #4435), 2) households that had their LFS data collection done in person. In total, excluding the above mentioned households, 6,456 individuals were selected for the supplementary survey.
Unlike the LFS where information is collected for all eligible household members, the PEPS only collected information from one eligible household member, randomly selected by the CAI application if more than one was present in the household. Proxy responses were not permitted for PEPS: data collected by PEPS was always obtained from the sampled individuals themselves, i.e. the PEPS collection was 0% proxy, 100% non-proxy. However, data obtained from the LFS about individuals sampled for PEPS was obtained by a different person almost two thirds of the time, i.e. the LFS collection for the PEPS sample was 65% proxy, 35% non-proxy.
Data collection for this reference period: February 17, 2002 – March 16, 2002
Responding to this survey is voluntary.
Data are collected directly from survey respondents.
Statistics Canada interviewers are part-time employees hired and trained to carry out the LFS and other household surveys. Each month they contact sampled dwellings to obtain the required labour force information. Each interviewer contacts approximately 75 dwellings per month.
At the conclusion of the LFS monthly interviews, interviewers introduce the supplementary survey, if any, to be administered to some or all household members that month.
The Post-secondary Education Participation Survey was administered to one randomly selected individual, 18 -- 24 years of age (17 - 24 in Québec), per household. The random selection was carried out at the time of the interview by the computer-assisted program. All interviews were done using Computer-assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). The collection method for the PEPS was CATI.
Upon completion of the Labour Force Survey interview, the interviewer asked to speak to the selected person for the PEPS. If the selected person was not available, the interviewer arranged for a convenient time to phone back. If the selected person was temporarily living away from the LFS household (e.g. a student away at school), interviewers were asked to trace (i.e. obtain the respondent's telephone number and contact the respondent for an interview). Proxy response was not allowed.
Some editing was done directly at the time of the interview using the computer-assisted program. Where the information entered was out of range (too large or small) of expected values, or inconsistent with previous entries, the interviewer was prompted, through message screens on the computer, to modify the information. However, interviewers had the option of bypassing the edits, and of skipping questions if the respondent did not know the answer or refused to answer. Therefore, the response data were subject to further edit processes once they arrived in head office.
At the head office, the first type of errors that were searched for were questionnaire flow errors. These errors happen when questions that did not apply to respondents were answered when they should not have. The responses are removed and replaced with a valid skip code. Questionnaire flow errors can also happen when the respondent was not asked questions that she/he should have been asked. For this type of questionnaire flow error a "not stated" code was assigned to these unanswered questions.
Further editing phases of processing involved the identification of logically inconsistent items and the modification of such conditions. Since the true value of each entry on the questionnaire was not known, the identification of errors could be done only through recognition of obvious inconsistencies. If a value was suspicious but reasonable, the erroneous value will have found its way into the survey's statistics.
Where errors were detected, the erroneous items were either replaced by logically consistent values or a not stated value. These changes were based on pre-specified criteria and involve the internal logic of the questionnaire. In order to make the changes, logic tables were developed and programmed and run on all the survey data to ensure that all the changes were done consistently and automatically.
The principle behind estimation in a probability sample such as the PEPS is that each person in the sample "represents", besides himself or herself, several other persons not in the sample. For example, in a simple random 2% sample of a population of 2,500 persons, each person in the sample represents 50 persons in the population.
The weighting phase is a step which calculates, for each record, what this number is. This weight appears on the microdata file, and must be used to derive meaningful estimates from the survey. For example, if the number of individuals aged 18 to 24 enrolled in full-time programs at a university at the time of the PEPS is to be estimated, it is done by selecting the records referring to those individuals in the sample with that characteristic and summing the weights entered on those records.
The weighting phase for PEPS consisted of the following six steps.
1) Starting with the Labour Force Survey (LFS) sub-weight, an adjustment was made to account for the use of a five-sixth sub-sample, instead of the full LFS sample.
2) Another adjustment was made to account for a priori household non-response, i.e. households that were in-scope for PEPS but where no-one was selected.
3) Another adjustment was made to account for the random selection of one eligible individual from the selected households (when there was more than one eligible individual).
4) Another adjustment was made to account for non response from individuals selected for PEPS.
5) A final adjustment was done to match the LFS counts by province, age group (17-19, 20-24) and gender. This calibration exercise used LFS reference totals corresponding to Census projections.
6) Finally, weights were rounded to fourth decimal precision.
The resulting weight is the final weight which appears on the PEPS microdata file.
For the PEPS release, the quality of the data in the standard tables, and any data used in the report, were released under the coefficient of variation release guidelines described in the attached table. The quality level of an estimate will be determined only on the basis of sampling error as reflected by the coefficient of variation.
The unknown response rates for variables analysed for the PEPS report and standard tables were checked in addition to the CVs. Variables (including derived variables) with an unknown response rate greater than 5% were flagged in the tables and their unknown response rate was included in the table notes.
The continuous variables dealing with postsecondary student expenses incurred during the academic year were compared when possible with other survey data. The mean and median (and the confidence interval values around the median) tuition fees and mandatory fees were compared to averages from the TLAC (Tuition and Living Accommodation Costs -- Survey #3123) and the SHS (the Survey of Household Spending -- Survey #3508). Mean and median (and the confidence interval values around the median) expenditures on books and supplies for postsecondary education from PEPS were compared to average expenditures on books and supplies for postsecondary education from the SHS.
The mean and median (and the confidence interval values around the median) annual regular expenses (monthly living expenses multiplied by number of months in the academic year) for current full-time students attending a university and living away from home were used as a basis of comparison for PEPS to TLAC food and accommodation residence expenses. Since the TLAC data are only available by institution and are not weighted, they are not available at the national or provincial level, and cannot be averaged. Therefore, the highest and lowest cost for food and accommodation were selected from a list of the institutions of the TLAC frame with their accommodation costs next to them. This way, a range was provided, and the PEPS data fell within that range.
Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any data which would divulge information obtained under the Statistics Act that relates to any identifiable person, business or organization without the prior knowledge or the consent in writing of that person, business or organization. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data. Demographic information which could possibly be used to uniquely identify a survey participant must also be suppressed. Data will only be available to the public through the data research centres; which require that researchers be sworn in under the Statistics Act before accessing the data.
Tables -- any unweighted cell count of 5 or less will be suppressed. Other correction methods, including cell collapsing and/or suppression will be used to prevent the disclosure of confidential respondent information.
The estimates derived from the PEPS are based on a sample of households. For this survey the measure for sampling error is expressed as the coefficient of variation (CV) of an estimate.
A set of Approximate Sampling Variability Tables has been produced and are available in the Microdata User Guide - Post-secondary Education Participation Survey, 2002 (see "Documentation" below). These CV tables allow the user to obtain an approximate coefficient of variation based on the size of the estimate calculated from the survey data.
Errors which are not related to sampling may occur at almost every phase of a survey operation. Interviewers may misunderstand instructions, respondents may make errors in answering questions, the answers may be incorrectly entered on the questionnaire and errors may be introduced in the processing and tabulation of the data.
Coverage error -- This error can result from incomplete listing of households that were selected for the LFS which could lead to incomplete coverage of 18 to 24 year olds (17 to 24 in Quebec).
A non-response to the LFS could also result in a coverage error.
Data response error -- This error may be due to questionnaire design, the characteristics of a question, inability or unwillingness of the respondent to provide the correct information, misinterpretation of the questions or definitional problems.
Non-response error -- A major source of non-sampling errors in surveys is the effect of non-response on the survey results. The extent of non-response varies from partial non-response (failure to answer just one or some questions) to total non-response.
Partial non-response is when some respondents may refuse to answer questions, or could not recall the requested information. Unknown answers are grouped in three categories: Don't Know, Refusal and Not Stated. Users of the data should verify the percentage of unknown responses to selected questions to ensure that the percentage of unknown responses is not too high.
There are 11 continuous variables considered to have a high unknown rate (29% to 78%).
Section 8.2.4 "Non-Response" of the Microdata User Guide - Post-secondary Education Participation Survey, 2002 gives more details of partial non-response in PEPS.
Total non response occurs because the interviewer was either unable to contact the respondent, the respondent refused to participate in the survey, or the questionnaire was insufficiently completed. For the overall response rates to the PEPS survey, see "additional documentation" link below.
Processing error -- These errors may occur at various stages of processing such as coding, data entry, verification, editing, weighting, and tabulation, etc.
There are no measures of non-sampling error for the PEPS.