Higher education in Manitoba
Higher education in Manitoba traces the development and expansion of higher education (also described as post-secondary or tertiary level education) in the Canadian province of Manitoba. In Canada, education is a provincial concern and there is no national regulation nor accrediting body.
Establishment of a one-university system
The University of Manitoba was founded in 1877 under the University of Manitoba Act, only seven years after the province of Manitoba and four years after the city of Winnipeg were created. The University of Manitoba granted its first degrees in 1880. It was modelled after the University of London on the principle of a “one-university” system, or a federation of denominational colleges. This model was proposed to counteract sectarian conflicts developing to the east in their post-secondary systems.
The original role of the University of Manitoba was to examine and confer degrees on students graduating from its three founding affiliated colleges--St. Boniface College (Roman Catholic); St John's (Anglican) and Manitoba College (Presbyterian). Consolidating other institutions was intended to strengthen the smaller, financially insecure institutions. Later, Methodist Wesley College and Brandon College joined the federation as well as other colleges.
With increasing demand for a science curriculum and influence from other post-secondary systems, in 1892 the University of Manitoba Act was amended to allow the university to instruct teachers. In 1900, a faculty of science was formally established and in 1904, a generous donation made possible the appointments of five professors. By 1920, the University of Manitoba offered a wide range of undergraduate programs and several professional schools (Harris, 1976).
Community of colleges
In 1967, Manitoba’s public policy of a one-university system ended with the establishment of the University of Winnipeg (formerly United College) and Brandon University (formerly Brandon College) under the Universities Establishment Act. As colleges, these two institutions had been affiliated with the University of Manitoba until their incorporation as universities. The universities are currently governed by The University of Winnipeg Act and The Brandon University Act respectively.
The remaining colleges still affiliated with the University of Manitoba continued developing under the new concept of a ”Community of Colleges”. Arts and science teaching functions were taken over by the University of Manitoba, and the colleges lost control over eligibility requirements to teach and study. This solved the classical colleges’ financial concerns regarding the provision of more expensive science-oriented curricula and allowed them to concentrate on theological studies and an interdisciplinary collegial environment. At the same time, this concept allowed the University to respond to cultural diversity in the province, yet honour long-standing historical relationships with the colleges.
Special arrangements were made with the Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface due to its specific language and cultural mission. The Collège universitaire retained public funding and some administrative autonomy, including the appointment of faculty. It is answerable directly to the University of Manitoba Senate on academic matters.
Other special arrangements include those made with Ukrainian Orthodox St. Andrew's College, which jointly sponsors a Centre for Ukrainian Canadian Studies with the University, which, although not formally linked as an institution, is located on its campus. Approved Teaching Centres have also been created to teach specific courses, approved by the University, which are offered by other denominational colleges. These approved courses may be applied towards a Bachelor degree at the University of Manitoba.
Today, the University of Manitoba enrols almost 28,000 students—24,000 undergraduates and 4,000 graduates. The University of Manitoba offers the most comprehensive selection of degree programs, including professional and graduate, of any university in the province. In all, over ninety degree, diploma, and certificate programs are offered, more than sixty of which are at the undergraduate level. It contributes $1.8 billion to the social and economic fabric of the province in annual economic activity.
Missions of the universities
The mission of the University of Manitoba is to “create, preserve and communicate knowledge, and thereby, contribute to the cultural, social and economic well-being of the people of Manitoba, Canada and the world.” The university aims not only to be the premier Western Canadian university, but to “be respected for our knowledge of the world and for our understanding of the complexities of our Prairie region in its cultural, socioeconomic and scientific dimensions, which we will articulate according to international standards of science and scholarship. We will be recognized for our centrality in the development of Manitoba's knowledge-based society in a knowledge-based global economy.”
The mission of the University of Winnipeg is to offer students "breadth and depth of knowledge, the skills to communicate effectively and to make informed decisions, an understanding of the ethical problems facing our society, and an appreciation of the full range of human, aesthetic and environmental values." 
The mission of Brandon University is to educate students "so that they can make a meaningful difference as engaged citizens and leaders." 
The mission of University College of the North is "to ensure Northern communities and people will have opportunities, knowledge and skills, while being inclusive and respectful of diverse, Northern and Aboriginal values and beliefs." 
Structure and governance
There are currently four public universities in Manitoba: the Universities of Manitoba and of Winnipeg, and Brandon University and University College of the North. Université de Saint-Boniface is affiliated with the University of Manitoba but retains some administrative autonomy and answers directly to the University Senate.
The public universities have instituted a bicameral system. The University of Manitoba and Brandon University have a Board of Governors, which looks after finance and the physical plant, and a Senate, which takes charge of academic matters. The University of Winnipeg has a Board of Regents instead of a Board of Governors.
Three public colleges were founded through the federal Vocational Training Co-ordination Act of 1942. Those institutions are now known as: Red River College (formerly Red River Community College), Assiniboine Community College, and University College of the North (formerly Keewatin Community College). The École technique et professionnelle is also publicly funded (MAEL , 2008). These colleges were largely dependent on federal funding targeted at occupational training and so undertook a vocational mandate.
Public and private denominational colleges are established by the Lieutenant Governor in Council and have been governed by the Colleges and Consequential Amendments Act since 1991. The Act provides for a Board of Governors to run each college, thereby allowing greater institutional autonomy than the previous centralized system (Dennison & Gallagher, 1986.; Sheffield, Campbell, Holmes, Kymlicka, & Whitelaw, 1978. ). The mandate of the Act is “to enhance the economic and social well-being of Manitoba through the provision of a broad range of educational opportunities” (Manitoba Laws , 2008).
Red River College is located in Winnipeg and offers more than one hundred degree, diploma, and certificate programs in applied arts and sciences, technology, and trades. The smaller Assiniboine Community College in Brandon offers certificate and diploma programs in trades, business, nursing, and agricultural training. The École technique et professionnelle is the only francophone college in the province, and is operated under the Université de Saint-Boniface. It offers courses in business, computing, early childhood education, nursing, and tourism.
University College of the North is Manitoba’s newest post-secondary institution, established in 2004. It grants degrees, diplomas, and certificates in academic, trades, technology, vocational, and literacy training programs. It also offers transition and preparatory programs for under-prepared students. Several campuses in northern Manitoba serve the educational needs of First Nations and other residents of this vast geographical area. A Governing Council runs the University College and is advised by a Council of Elders. The mission of the University College is “to ensure northern communities and people will have opportunities, knowledge and skills to contribute to an economically, environmentally, and culturally healthy society inclusive and respectful of diverse Northern and Aboriginal values and beliefs.” The core values of justice, respect, generosity, excellence and education, honesty and integrity, privacy, and stewardship are emphasized in a Code of Ethics (UCN , 2008).
Canadian Mennonite University is a private university in Manitoba and offers degrees in the arts, music, music therapy, theology, and church ministries. It is an amalgamation of three colleges: Mennonite Brethren Bible College/Concord College (established in 1944), Canadian Mennonite Bible College (1947), and Menno Simons College (1989). In 1998, the government proclaimed a new charter for the creation of a university-level, degree-granting federation of Mennonite colleges. The Mennonite College Federation (now Canadian Mennonite University) began offering joint academic programs in 1999 (CMU, 2008). The CMU Senate provides internal governance and is made up of faculty, appointed administrators, and the President's Council. The CMU Council serves as an external accountability body and is made of up the three current owners of the University (Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Brethren Church of Manitoba, Friends of Menno Simons College). The Board of Governors is elected from the CMU Council.
Booth University College is one of the newest university colleges in the province of Manitoba. Booth is a private postsecondary institution offering degrees in religion, English and film, general studies, behavioural sciences (psychology and sociology), psychology, business administration, and social work. Booth University College was founded by the Salvation Army in 1982, and was originally called Catherine Booth Bible College. In 1997 the college was renamed William and Catherine Booth College, and in June 2010 the college received university college status from the Manitoba Legislature.
Other private denominational institutions include Providence University College and Theological Seminary in Otterburne, Manitoba, and Steinbach Bible College.
Private vocational institutions in Manitoba are registered under the Private Vocational Institutions Act and Manitoba Regulation 237/02. The Act “provides consumer protection and ensures that the training provides a person with skills and knowledge required to pursue employment in their chosen field” (MAEL , 2008).
The Universities Grants Commission was established in 1967 under the Universities Establishment Act. It acts as a semi-autonomous intermediary between post-secondary institutions and the provincial government to advise government on the financial needs of institutions, distribute annual grants authorized by the legislature to public institutions and private denominational institutions, and coordinate program and policy development. The Universities Grants Commission is now known as the Council on Post-Secondary Education (COPSE).
The University of Manitoba Act of 1877 provided for a modest annual provincial grant of $250 (Morton, 1957). In 2010-2011, COPSE allocated $407.8 million in block funding to the Universities of Manitoba and of Winnipeg, Brandon University, Collège universitaire de Saint-Boniface, and the University College of the North. In addition, $5.5 million was allocated to the private denominational institutions of Canadian Mennonite University, Providence College and Seminary, Booth University College, and Steinbach Bible College. $87.2 million was provided to the public colleges of Red River College, Assiniboine Community College, and the École technique et professionnelle. (MAEL , 2011).
In 2010-2011, the University of Manitoba had a General Operating Budget of $514.3 million. The province provided $294.5 million through COPSE as well as an additional $72.3 million. The federal government provided $93.8 million. Tuition and other fees provided $117.5 million, leaving a shortfall which was provided for by donations, investments, NGO grants, sales of goods and services, and other ancillary services .
In 2009-2010, 91% of undergraduate students at the University of Manitoba were born in Manitoba, 5% were born in another Canadian province or territory, and 4% had moved from abroad for the purpose of study. In total, 1,900 were self-declared First Nations (University of Manitoba).
From 2006 to 2010, enrolment at the University of Manitoba slowly increased. Current trends indicate that this slow growth should continue over the next few years. The number of female students continues to be slightly greater than the number of male students enrolled in both full- and part-time programs at the University of Manitoba.
The retention rate in 2008-2009 of full-time, first-year students at the University of Manitoba was 84.7%. 91% of students graduating in 2009 reported that they were satisfied with their decision to attend the University, a rate slightly higher than the national average of 87% (Canadian University Survey Consortium 2009 Graduating Students Survey, as reported by the University of Manitoba.
An earlier survey based on the Class of 1984 reported that Manitoba graduates were as satisfied with their jobs as other graduates nationally, and in fact experienced higher rates of employment and some higher salaries than the national averages. Almost all Manitoba graduates were still living in the province at the time of the survey (Manitoba Department of Education, 1986).
In 2004, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) reported that Manitoba had gained the top spot in overall provincial rankings of equity, quality, accountability, and accessibility, demonstrating a “consistent commitment to higher education as a share of total provincial expenditures, in fostering high employment and income parity among male and female graduates, and in limiting downloading of costs onto students” (CCPA, 2004, p. 3)
According to government figures, student enrolment had increased by 30% at university level and 25% at college level between 1999 and 2004, outpacing other provinces (CCPA, 2004, p. 47).
Aboriginal post-secondary participation has been increasing during the past decade and is currently estimated at community colleges to be almost the same as for the general population of Manitoba, there are fewer participants at university level. It is estimated that Aboriginal students now constitute 7% of university enrolments, 17% of college enrolments, and 17% of all active apprentices in Manitoba (Council of Ministers of Education, Canada , 2008). However, secondary school dropout rates among Aboriginal students remain disproportionately high. Although a relatively high proportion of Manitoba's population is Aboriginal, (15.5% in 2006) of all the provinces, Manitoba has the lowest percentage of Aboriginal youth attending school. In 1996, only 44.1% of Aboriginal youth were attending school full or part-time. Two of the goals of the Bridging Two Worlds: Aboriginal Education and Employment Action Plan 2008-2011 were: to increase student engagement and high school completion; and, to improve access to and success in adult learning, including post-secondary education and training.
ACCESS provides specialized programs with funding to residents from under-represented groups who have faced barriers to post-secondary education. Such individuals include First Nations, the physically challenged, females, single parents, and immigrants. COPSE reported that, between 1999/00 and 2009/10, 3,706 new students enrolled in ACCESS programs with an average of 337 new students per year (COPSE , 2011).
Barriers to access
The Canadian Council on Learning concluded in its 2007 Report on Learning in Canada that the most significant barriers to post-secondary access are informational and motivational (CCL, 2008). The 2007 Survey of Early Leavers in Manitoba reported that students typically leave higher education for reasons not related to the institution itself. Financial considerations sometimes influence the decision. The Survey concluded that remedial courses could be helpful, and that such students require assistance immediately in their first year, especially at college level where programs are of shorter duration (MAEL, 2007).
The University of Manitoba today offers more than $13 million in scholarships and bursaries. Despite the common belief that lower tuition fees would result in greater university access, the Montreal Economic Institute’s 2004 report entitled Would Higher Tuition Fees Restrict Access to University Studies? contended that data from various Canadian studies show no direct relationship. Instead, we should consider other factors such as secondary school grades, parental educational attainment, and parental expectations (MEI, 2008).
The Manitoba Department of Education concluded that financial and institutional barriers seldom hinder access to post-secondary education. Instead, barriers are social and cultural (Manitoba Department of Education, 1983, 1984); . Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN) in its 2005 report entitled Getting There and Staying There adds the factor of geography, citing the long distances that students must travel in Manitoba and consequent personal dislocation to find a suitable post-secondary program (CPRN , 2008). All three reports suggest the following strategies to increase access and participation: early intervention, career counseling starting in grade 9, orientation programs, introductory academic and vocational programs starting in grade 12, the involvement of parents, promotion of role models, distance education, and satellite campuses (Manitoba Department of Education, 1983, 1984;;; Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN), 2008).).
Providing post-secondary education to residents of Manitoba's rural northern communities continues to be a challenge. University College of the North is ideally situated to reach potential students living in northern Manitoba. It offers basic education upgrading and adult literacy programs, as well as post-secondary transition and preparatory programs for under-prepared students. It is developing academic programs in conjunction with other post-secondary institutions in the province. Additionally, its mandate offers community-centered learning, characterized by a “culture of openness, inclusiveness and tolerance and respectful of Aboriginal and northern values.” (UCN , 2008). Campus Manitoba is a consortium of all of the public colleges and universities in Manitoba. Through distributed learning mechanisms such as the Internet, it allows students to complete a significant portion of a college certificate, diploma, or university degree while staying in their home community. In 2009/10, the Rural/Northern Bursary was added as part of the Manitoba Bursary budget to assist students who need to relocate from northern and rural communities to attend post-secondary studies.
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. In June 2011, the public college and university presidents in Manitoba signed a memorandum of understanding intended to make it easier for students to transfer credits between post-secondary institutions and receive credit for prior learning therefore increasing student mobility.
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. In 2006, the province of Manitoba spent 2.4% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on tertiary education; slightly less than the national average of 2.6%.
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- Higher education in Canada
- Brandon University Faculty Association
- University of Manitoba Faculty Association
- University of Winnipeg Faculty Association
- Manitoba Office of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
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