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This paper examines differences in postsecondary-participation rates between students with and without immigrant backgrounds in Switzerland and Canada. For both countries, a rich set of longitudinal data, including family background, family aspirations regarding postsecondary education, and students' secondary-school performance as measured by Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, are used to explain these differences. Two groups are analyzed: all 15-year-old students; and all low-performing 15-year-old secondary-school students. The results suggest that the gap in postsecondary participation between students with and without immigrant backgrounds, and its determinants, differs significantly between the two countries. This gap also differs significantly by students' source region background. In Canada, students with immigrant backgrounds who are low performers in secondary school have surprisingly high rates of postsecondary participation, particularly if they have an Asian background. In Switzerland, postsecondary participation among low performers in secondary school is much lower, whether they have an immigrant background or not. Possible reasons for these inter-country differences are discussed, including differences in the immigration and education systems as well as differences in the distribution of immigrants by source region.

Related studies on immigration and education and training from the Social Analysis Division can be found at Update on Social Analysis Research.

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