Higher education in Canada
- 1 Higher education systems in Canada
- 2 Federal presence in higher education
- 3 Higher education associations and organizations
- 4 Higher education journals and publications
- 5 Selected issues
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 Further reading
Higher education systems in Canada
In Canada, the constitutional responsibility for higher education rests with the provinces of Canada. The decision to assign responsibility for universities to the local legislatures, cemented in the British North America Act, 1867, which was renamed the Constitution Act in 1982, was contentious from its inception. The Act states that "in and for each Province, the Legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to Education". As a result of this constitutional arrangement, a distinctive system of education, including higher education, has evolved in each province. However, as the constitutional responsibility for Aboriginal Peoples with Treaty Status rests with the federal government of Canada under the Constitution Act of 1982, it is the federal government that is largely responsible for funding higher education opportunities for Aboriginal learners, whether in traditional post-secondary institutions or in settings that promote opportunities to pursue indigenous education. The federal government also operates the Royal Military College of Canada.
The higher education systems in Canada's ten provinces include their historical development, organization (e.g., structure, governance, and funding), and goals (e.g., participation, access, and mobility). Each of the three territories in Canada (i.e., Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon) have separate higher education systems that reflect territorial history, organization, and goals in the context of geographical challenges.
Higher education in Alberta trains students in various academic and vocational specializations. Generally, youth attend school from kindergarten until grade twelve, at which time they have the option to continue into post secondary study. Students are required to meet the individual entrance requirements for programs offered at the institution of their choice. Once accepted, students are allowed greater educational opportunities through the province extensively developed articulation system. The Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer (ACAT) enables students transfer between programs at any of the twenty public post secondary institutions, eight private colleges, and other Alberta based not for profit institutions. To ensure a continued high standard for credentials awarded by post secondary facilities, the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education established the Campus Alberta Quality Council with membership in the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education.
The provincial government administers a higher education system that includes twenty-five publicly funded institutions, fourteen private institutions, and numerous private career training institutions or career colleges. Public institutions include eleven universities, eleven colleges, and three institutes. Private institutions include three private universities, five private colleges, and six theological colleges.
A major public review of higher education in Manitoba, submitted in 1973 under the title of the Task Force on Postsecondary Education, more commonly known as the Oliver Commission, recommended closer articulation between Manitoba’s universities and community colleges. The system remains a binary one, however, with few university transfer programs or college courses which can be applied towards a university degree. The Roblin Commission of 1993 and subsequent declining allocations of the public purse have made it clear that post-secondary institutions will have to find their own private sources of funding to make up shortfalls in general operating budgets.
The higher education system in New Brunswick includes the governing Ministry of Postsecondary Education Training and Labour, related agencies, boards, or commissions, public or private chartered universities, universities recognized under the degree granting act, public colleges, and other institutions such as private career colleges. Higher education has a rich history in New Brunswick, including the first English-speaking University in Canada, University of New Brunswick, and the first university in the British Empire to have awarded a baccalaureate to a woman (Grace Annie Lockhart, B.Sc, 1875), Mount Allison University. English speaking New Brunswickers in Canada's only bilingual province are falling behind according to Statistics Canada.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Newfoundland and Labrador has had the same growing pains as other provinces in developing its own form of education and now boasts a very strong, although relatively small, system. The direction of Newfoundland and Labrador’s policy has evolved rapidly since the late 1990s, with increased funding, participation rates, accessibility and transferability. Many of the directives the government has been acting upon in the past 3 years have been a result of recommendations that stemmed from a 2005 white paper: Foundation for Success: White Paper on Public Post-Secondary Education
The only post-secondary institution in the NWT is Aurora College. The former Arctic College was split into Aurora College and Nunavut Arctic College when Nunavut Territory was created in 1999. Aurora College has campuses in Inuvik, Fort Smith and Yellowknife. It has learning centres in many other communities in the NWT. The territorial Department of Education, Culture and Employment is the government agency responsible for post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories. There are two career colleges located in the NWT: the Academy of Learning in Yellowknife, which provides business information technology courses, and Great Slave Helicopters Flight Training Centre, which supplies Global Positioning System training for helicopter pilot education.
The governing body for higher education in Nova Scotia is the Department of Education with Karen Casey as Minister of Education. Nova Scotia has a population of less than 1 million people who are served by 11 public universities and one private chartered university authorized to grant degrees, the Nova Scotia Community College that offers programs at 13 campuses, and 6 Community Learning Centres.
Created in 1999, the Territory of Nunavut is located in the Canadian Arctic. Nunavut has developed some creative solutions to the delivery of post secondary education. Some of the challenges include a huge geographic region, a sparse and isolated populace, and four official languages. To address these challenges, Nunavut Arctic College delivers customized learning programs via Community Learning Centres in twenty-four of the twenty-six communities in Nunavut. Programs are developed to address the needs of individual communities, with respect to literacy, adult education, certificates, and professional development for major regional community stake-holds, such as government, employers and non-profit organizations. To assist Northern residents in accessing highly skilled training, Nunavut Arctic College has partnered with McGill University, the University of Victoria and Dalhousie University to offer Bachelors degrees in Education, Nursing and Law, respectively. Nunavut Arctic College is an active member of the Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer, and has developed formal transfer arrangements with many institution in the Province of Alberta and Aurora College in Northwest Territories.
The higher education system in Ontario includes the governing Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities, advisory bodies, public universities, private degree granting institutions, public colleges, private career colleges, and associations. In Ontario there are twenty-two public universities, twenty-four colleges, and seventeen privately funded institutions with degree granting authority. Governance within Ontario universities generally follows a bicameral approach with separation of authority between a board and senate. There are eight associations that provide representation for faculty, staff, institutions, and students by interacting within the Ontario higher education system. The public funding of higher education in Ontario primarily relies on cooperation between the government of Canada and the government of Ontario. Public funding of higher education involves direct public funding of institutions for instruction, investment, and research combined with funding of students.
Prince Edward Island
Higher education in Prince Edward Island falls under the jurisdiction of the Higher Education and Corporate Services Branch within the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development. The province has one university, the University of Prince Edward Island authorized to grant degrees and one community college, Holland College, that operates centres across the province including: the Culinary Institute of Canada, the Justice Institute of Canada, the Marine Centre, the Aerospace Centre, the Atlantic Tourism and Hospitality Institute and the Prince Edward Island Institute of Adult and Community Education.
The higher education system in Quebec is unique when compared to the other Canadian provinces and territories. Students complete their secondary studies in the eleventh grade. Post secondary studies start within a mandatory pre-university college system (Although commonly referred as the public institutions named (French) College d’enseignement generale et professionel or CEGEP, which translates as General and Vocational College, Both private Colleges and Public CEGEPs exist). Students keen on academic and highly skilled occupations would take the university preparation programs, while students interested in technical, vocational and building trades would take specialized programs at this level to prepare them for the workforce. Because College includes two years of academic study they essentially eliminate the freshman year of university. Programs in Quebec universities are more specialized, but students are required to complete only ninety credits for a Bachelors degree. Students from outside the province are required make up the first year either through a College, CEGEP, or at their chosen university. Although French is the official language at the provincial level, all students can access post-secondary education in both French and English.
The post-secondary sector in Saskatchewan includes public institutions, Aboriginal-controlled institutions and programming, private vocational schools, apprenticeship programs, and Campus Saskatchewan. According to the 2008-09 Budget, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment, and Labour has a total budget of $761 million. The Saskatchewan Ministry of Advanced Education, Employment and Labour oversees a number of programs to assist current and potential students.
Yukon's system of higher education is shaped by the territory's small population (30,375 people as of May 2006) in a relatively large geographic area. The history of higher education in fact went hand in hand with the establishment of a representative territorial government in 1979. The only post-secondary institute in Yukon, Yukon College, issues certificate, diploma, and partial and some full degree programs to all high school leavers and older adults. The college is a community college and as a result it provides Adult Basic Education/literacy programs as well.
Federal presence in higher education
The federal Parliament is responsible for the national interest and "it has the power to legislate regarding matters which are in the interest of more than one of the provinces or of the nation as a whole". However, there is no federal ministry or minister of higher education. Historically, areas identified as “appropriate” for federal government involvement included the following: economic and social growth and development, equality of opportunity, employment, preparing young people for the labour force, inter-provincial labour market mobility, adult training and retraining, vocational training, bilingualism, technological development, international affairs and research, and the Canadian Military Colleges In 2008, federal responsibility for higher education is under the umbrella of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC), Learning Branch. The Learning Branch of HRSDC oversees the following: Canada Student Loans and Grants; Saving for Education; Post-Secondary Education; and Student Exchanges and Academic Mobility.
As mentioned above, the federal government is also responsible for funding higher educational opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples with Treaty Status, consistent with the government's constitutional obligation under section 91 of the British North America Act. This is true for Aboriginal learners who wish to pursue both traditional postsecondary education, as well as indigenous educational opportunities.
History of federal government involvement
1885 Land endowment granted for the establishment of the University of Manitoba
1910 Royal Commission on Industrial Training and Vocational Education – “led to the provision of grants to the provinces for the purposes of developing agricultural techniques and training and upgrading vocational, technical and industrial education” (p. 2)
1939 Establishment of the Dominion-Provincial Student Aid Program (DPSAP)
federal government provided universities with annual grant of $150 for each veteran student
1957-67 Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) provided loans to universities for building of student residences
1960 Separation of the Medical Research Council (MRC) from the National Research Council (NRC)
1963 Establishment of the Economic Council of Canada
1966 Direct involvement of the Department of the Secretary of State
1966 Establishment of the Education Support Branch of the Department of the Secretary of State formed to coordinate assistance given to universities
1966 Establishment of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC)
1971 Formation of the Ministry for Science and Technology
1977 Federal-Provincial Arrangements Established Programs Financing Act (1977)
1978 Government Organizations Act (1976) which led to the creation of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRCC) and the National Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC)
1983 Dissolution of the Economic Council of Canada
1984 Bill C-12 Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Arrangements and Established Programs Financing Act
1986 Bill C-96 Act to Amend the Federal-Provincial Arrangements and Federal Post-secondary Education and Health Act Programs Act, 1977
1995 Bill C-76 Act to Implement Certain Provisions of the Budget Tabled in Parliament on February 27, 1995
1995 Amalgamation of Established Programs Financing (EPF) and Canada Assistance Plan (CAP)
1999 Bill C-65: An Act to Amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act
2004 Separation of the Canada Health Transfer (CHT) and Canada Social Transfer (CST)
Higher education associations and organizations
There are numerous groups that are relevant to the structure of higher education in Canada. These include those that support teachers, staff, students, institutions, research, and related groups involved in the delivery of higher education in the Canadian provinces and territories.
Higher education journals and publications
There are a number of journals and publications regarding higher education in Canada. The majority are published by associations of faculty, staff, or students.
- Academic Matters is a Canadian magazine which publishes articles on issues of relevance to postsecondary education in Canada and internationally, as well as literature and film reviews, original fiction, research notes and commentaries. This journal is published by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations and has a circulation of 24,000 readers, including professors, academic librarians and others interested in higher education issues across Canada.
- CAUT Bulletin is an electronic newsletter published by the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).
- The Canadian Journal of Higher Education is a journal published by the Canadian Society for the Study of Higher Education (CSSHE).
- Canadian Public Policy is a journal that examines Canadian economic and social policy published by the Canadian Economics Association.
- College Canada is a magazine published by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges (ACCC).
- University Affairs is a magazine published by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).
A 2011 study found that Canadian university professors were left leaning but were not "hugely different in this respect from the Canadian university-educated population." There were considerable variation in political views which suggests "that contemporary characterizations of the North American professoriate as left- or right-leaning tend to be overdrawn". Disadvantaged status and socialization in the field were important in forming these views but self-selection effects were not excluded.
Value of higher education
A 2013 study has found that the overall rate of unemployment among university graduates is only slightly lower than that of high school graduates, the wage boost associated with higher education is narrowing, and "a look at the dispersion of earnings across fields of study shows that there is a much greater risk of falling into a lower-income category for graduates of humanities and social sciences, with a limited risk for students of health, engineering or business. Those underperforming sectors comprise just under half of all recent graduates. In other words, Canadian students are continuing to pursue fields where upon graduation, they aren't getting a relative edge in terms of income prospects".
- List of universities in Canada
- List of colleges in Canada
- List of business schools in Canada
- List of law schools in Canada
- List of Canadian universities by endowment
- Higher education
- History of Canada
- Indigenous education
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- Gregor, A.D. (1997). Higher education in Manitoba. In Jones, G.A. (Ed.), Higher education in Canada: Different systems, different perspectives (pp.115-136). New York: Garland
- Newfoundland and Labrador. (2005). Foundation for success: White paper on public post-secondary education. St. John’s, NL: Department of Education Retrieved on May 15, 2008
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