Debunking the Myth of the Lazy Student

Results of a major survey of post-secondary students were released on Thursday.  The 149-page report, entitled Sources et Modes de Financement des Etudiants the Premier Cycle 2009, was written by the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec (FEUQ).  It was done in collaboration with Léger Marketing, who suveyed almost 13,000 undergraduate students in Quebec, spanning 14 different post-secondary institutions in the province.  According to the report’s authors, this is the most comprehensive survey ever undertaken on living conditions of Quebec undergraduate students. 

Some of the survey’s major findings:

  • Roughly 50% of full-time undergraduate students in Quebec live on less $12,200 per year. (This includes any funds from internal and external scholarships, money from co-op programs or internships, government grants or loans, money from family and child support).
  • 40% of undergraduate students in Quebec receive no financial assistance whatsoever from their family members.
  • More than 80% of full-time undergraduate students are gainfully employed.  Of those who are gainfully employed, roughly half work more than 15 hours per week.
  • Roughly two-thirds of full-time undergraduate students do not live with their parents.
  • Just over 20% of full-time undergraduate students who are over the age of 24 have at least one child of their own.
  • More than half of full-time undergraduate students receive no financial aid whatsoever.
  • Roughly 57% of full-time undergraduate students in Quebec pay more than 30% of their income on housing. (Note: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation considers a household to be in “core housing need” if it cannot find suitable, adequate housing in the local market without paying more than 30% of its income on housing.)

I’m concerned about what the above findings mean for food security.  I am especially troubled by the $12,200 average annual income figure.  As I’ve written elsewhere, other recent research conducted in Canada demonstrates a direct relationship between a household’s income level and its purchase of foods from all groups, particularly fruit, vegetables, and milk.  This relationship is particularly strong when a household’s annual income is below $15,000.

On the whole, I believe that this new research out of Quebec is important for at least two reasons.  First, it debunks the myth of the lazy student.  Second, it comes as the Charest government is set to increase tuition fees.

There’s a 23-page summary of the report available online, but I’m not aware of an English-language version of either the full report or summary report as of yet.


  • Thanks for this Nick, I had not seen this survey. Are you aware of any comparable studies for Ontario? With higher tuition fees in Ontario, and I believe higher rent at least for students in major urban centres, it would be an interesting comparison.

  • Ok so they are not lazy but they do not do their readings. I have been doing a non punitive poll for all my undergrad classes and they do not do their readings. And one of the reasons is that that they are working along-side being full time students.

    It is not really a problem for departments that have tests like: a raise in the min wage will result in a,b,c,d e none of the above goodnight; but for the rest of us we are in direct competition with their paid job for their attention and time.

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