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Backgrounder - September 29, 2014

Framework for Collaboration.The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Colleges and Institutes Canada signed a historic partnership agreement on September 29, 2014. The framework reflects the commitment of universities and colleges across the country to further enhance innovative programs and partnerships that offer Canadian students an effective continuum of choices leading to rewarding careers. It also signals new avenues for collaboration by AUCC and CICan in communications, member initiatives and policy dialogue.

Read A Framework for Collaboration

Media release - September 29, 2014
Paul Davidson and Denise Amyot sign the joint AUCC/CICan Framework for Collaboration

Paul Davidson and Denise Amyot sign the joint AUCC/CICan Framework for Collaboration

OTTAWA – Young Canadians will be the prime beneficiaries of a new partnership between the country’s colleges and universities. The framework for collaboration – signed today at SAIT Polytechnic in Calgary by Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and Denise Amyot, president of Colleges and Institutes Canada – is designed to help Canada succeed in the global knowledge economy by addressing the need for advanced skills in all sectors.  Together, AUCC and CICan represent 228 postsecondary institutions serving more than 2.5 million students.

Participants at the signing ceremony included David Ross, president of SAIT Polytechnic, and Mike Mahon, president of the University of Lethbridge, co-chairs of a university-college presidents’ working group that developed the framework, as well as local students and staff; national student leader representatives; and local university, college and business leaders.

A high degree of mobility and pathways between postsecondary institutions in Canada is one of our country’s strengths, as noted by the OECD in its 2014 Education at a Glance report.  Building on this strong foundation, the new framework reflects the commitment of universities and colleges across the country to further enhance innovative programs and partnerships that offer Canadian students an effective continuum of choices leading to rewarding careers.  It also signals new avenues for collaboration by AUCC and CICan in communications, member initiatives and policy dialogue.

David Ross, Denise Amyot, Michael Mann and Paul Davidson

David Ross, Denise Amyot, Michael Mahon and Paul Davidson


“Today’s students are preparing for a more global and complex world. This agreement demonstrates our shared commitment to equip them to achieve their goals in education and career-readiness,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president.  “We need to develop the human potential of this country to its fullest extent and deeper collaboration between colleges and universities will help us get there.”

“Ensuring students have diverse options and pathways to education through enhanced collaboration between colleges, institutes, polytechnics and universities is what this agreement is all about,” says Denise Amyot, CICan president. “Improved transferability will also benefit learners by affording them more chances to participate in college/university partnerships, such as applied research, which delivers the skills needed by employers and communities.”

“We must continue producing an educated workforce to support industry across the country,” says David Ross, president and CEO of SAIT Polytechnic. “This historic agreement recognizes that connections between post-secondaries must be strong in order to support Canada’s ever-changing needs for diverse, advanced skills.”

“This agreement reflects universities’ and colleges’ commitment to innovate how we learn for the benefit of our students,” says Mike Mahon, president of Lethbridge University and co-chair of the university-college presidents’ working group. “We’re working together to ensure that all students –  including Canada’s Indigenous people and new Canadians –  have the pathways and tools they need to succeed in education and the labour market.”

About AUCC
As the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, AUCC represents 97 public and private not-for-profit universities and university degree level colleges. A membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice and a forum for collective action, AUCC has represented the interests of Canadian universities since 1911.

About CICan

Colleges and Institutes Canada is the national and international voice of Canada’s publicly supported colleges, cégeps, institutes and polytechnics. The association works with industry and social sectors to train 1.5 million learners of all ages and backgrounds at campuses serving over 3,000 urban, rural and remote communities. Colleges and Institutes Canada presently operates in 29 countries via 13 offices around the world.


The new framework agreement is available here

Media Contacts:

Shawn Dearn
Director, Communications and Information Services
Colleges and Institutes Canada
phone: 613-746-2222 ext. 3123
cell: 613-513-6291 (cell)

Helen Murphy
Assistant director, Communications
Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada
phone: 613-563-3961 ext. 238
cell: 613-608-8749 

Melanie Simmons
Public relations specialist, Communications and Marketing
SAIT Polytechnic
phone: 403-284-8473
cell: 403-512-3291

Richard Westlund
Director, Public Affairs
University of Lethbridge
cell: 403-393-2216

Presentation - September 25, 2014

Economic Club of Canada – Ottawa

Paul Davidson
President, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Check against delivery


Thank you David, and thank you to the Economic Club.

It is great to see so many friends of higher education, research and innovation here.

En français, one speaks of this time of year as “La Rentrée” – the return – back-to-school, back-to-Parliament, back-to-work. It is good to be back. The work we are all doing together is important to Canada.

One iconic image of “La Rentrée” is the yellow school bus picking up students and taking them to school. It is a reminder that Canada’s public education system, publicly funded, publicly delivered, and open to all is one of Canada’s great competitive advantages. And one of our greatest achievements.

And I want to speak both of achievement and ambition today.

Let me start with a question this afternoon. How many of you have just seen a child off to university or college? It’s a peculiar mix of pride and panic, isn’t it?

Paul Davidson President of AUCC Economic Club Speech September 25 2014

Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

You probably had some advice for your new student. I have three sons — one in university and two completing high school. I know the temptation. Your advice was probably based on your own experience.

I’m in a bit of a unique position as head of AUCC. I’ve visited over 80 campuses across the country. I’ve met with students, professors and administrators and I’ve walked through their labs, sat in their lecture halls and, yes, eaten the on-campus food.

I’ve heard about their successes and where they need help. Even in just five years at the helm of AUCC, I have seen tremendous change and growth on university campuses across the country.

It’s all with an unwavering focus: to equip students with the critical thinking and knowledge-based skills they will need to launch their careers and contribute to this great country.

As for the advice we’re giving our children, I’ll let you in on a secret. If you have a kid old enough to be in university, your own university experience will not resemble theirs in any way.

Let’s go back to the 1980s.

Ferris Bueller and his friends were heading off to university. They were using landlines, electric typewriters or maybe a Commodore 64.

Research was done almost exclusively in the library or lab.

As for me, I had left my family home in Toronto landing down the highway at Trent University in Peterborough. While it felt like a different world, let’s be honest. The language, food and basic culture really didn’t demand that much of an adjustment.

Times have changed. To help illustrate that, we are fortunate to have with us this afternoon a group of high school students and teachers from the Ottawa area. A special welcome to you.

Yes, we are all looking at you now, and, again, as a dad, I know how awkward that is. But I do want to provide a picture of where you might be headed. You are probably thinking about what to do after high school. If university is on your mind, you may be worried about exams, marks, and competition to get into the program you want.

You may also be struggling with making a choice. Do you stay close to home or do you cross the country? Humanities or science? On or off campus? Co-op or concurrent?

Let me help you out with your decision. The answer to all of those questions is yes.

Il n’y a pas de mauvais choix. Les universités canadiennes offrent plus de souplesse et d’options que jamais. Elles n’ont jamais été plus visionnaires qu’aujourd’hui.

À l’université, vous allez fréquenter d’autres étudiants et des professeurs du monde entier. Plus de la moitié d’entre vous pourrez faire des stages ou vivre des expériences à l’étranger, qui vous prépareront à votre carrière. Vous allez développer votre esprit critique, vos capacités à rédiger et à raisonner. Vous allez participer à des activités de recherche, qui vous seront utiles sur le marché du travail et qu’on n’aurait jamais pu imaginer.

Our kids may create businesses or work in fields that don’t yet exist. As they move forward, they’ll need labour market data from reliable and reputable sources to help make future career and course decisions. Decisions that are based on facts.

I didn’t ask our students in the room if you are worried about jobs. I’ll bet your parents have thought about that.

Some people would have you believe that there are no jobs for university grads. That you’ll be painfully underemployed. It’s a myth. It’s a corrosive myth.

Over the last six years, more than twice as many net new jobs were created for university grads than for college and trades grads combined. During their careers, university graduates will earn $1.3 million more than graduates of high school. And yes, a high income advantage is shared by arts grads.

That’s not to say that Canada doesn’t need all kinds of postsecondary graduates to build our economy and society – apprentices, colleges and polytechnics, and university.

In fact, I’m pleased to say that in just a few days, Canada’s university and college leaders will sign a new agreement to strengthen the collaboration, partnerships and pathways among our institutions.

Because we need to harness the talent of all Canadians to be successful in the 21st century.

How else have universities changed since the 1980’s? Far more students are gaining experience through co-ops. Right now, there are more than 1,000 co-op programs at 59 Canadian universities.

Today’s students recognize that co-ops and internships are one of the best paths to the labour market. Enrolment in those programs has jumped by 25 percent in recent years from 53,000 to more than 65,000 students.

Some of these students will do several co-ops or internships. Vanessa Stofer, a BA writing graduate of the University of Victoria, tells us she discovered what she did not want to do through one of her first co-op placements. That’s a valuable lesson. Her next placement hit the mark. She was hired by the employer, and is now doing what she loves, telling the stories of an organization she believes in.

We know that a significant percentage of co-op students are offered employment by their placement host. Employers have had a chance to “test drive” a potential hire. They know the skill set and have already invested in training the candidate on the corporate culture and job requirements.

You’ll also have access to research internships that benefit not just students and employers, but whole communities.

Megan MacGillivray is a PhD candidate at the University of British Columbia. She has a wealth of experience in the lab, but was looking for some practical applications.

Mitacs is a not-for-profit research outfit that connects organizations with student interns.

Through Mitacs, Megan worked with SideStix Ventures Inc.. It’s a very small B.C. company that makes forearm crutches. They’re commonly used by people who have had an amputation that won’t accommodate a prosthetic leg.

SideStix had developed a new crutch that has built-in shock absorbers – similar to a mountain bike. But the company had limited funds for research. That’s pretty common for a small venture.

Through Mitacs, SideStix had access to Megan’s expertise and Megan learned real world applications.

Megan’s research showed that the crutch helped users to walk farther with less pain.

The project had benefits for all sides. Sales went up. More importantly, users of forearm crutches gained from an advance in technology.

Megan’s story is just one example of student, university and community collaboration that makes a difference for all of us.

What else is new? Canada’s universities conduct nearly $1 billion of contract research for the private sector each year. They also conduct more than $1 billion of research a year with community and non-profit groups, particularly in the area of health.

We all benefit from the results, whether it’s a new procedure for joint replacements, a more accurate means of testing water quality or a clearer interpretation of our history. Canada’s universities are not isolated in some distant, ivory tower. They are in your community finding solutions every day.

It takes a series of investments in discovery and research, graduate student support and infrastructure to make that happen. Canada’s granting councils are essential to our success. Having state-of-the-art equipment and tools makes a difference. Those tools include laboratories, databases, computer hardware and software, and facilities.

The Canada Foundation for Innovation was created by the Government of Canada to build the country’s capacity for world-class research and technology development. Its support has helped advance leading- edge research in everything from skin-sensitive sunscreen to earthquake-resistant retaining walls.

Ongoing, sustainable funding for research and research infrastructure will ensure that Canada’s researchers excel, our students develop the research skills they need, and that Canada continues to attract top researchers from around the world.

Un financement soutenu et prévisible de la recherche, contribuera à préserver la dynamique existante, à créer davantage d’emplois de grande qualité, à renforcer la position du Canada dans l’économie actuelle du savoir. Il contribuera à doter les étudiants des compétences en recherche dont ils auront besoin tout au long de leur carrière.

L’expérience acquise aujourd’hui par les étudiants les prépare à intégrer le marché mondial de l’emploi. Les universités canadiennes créent des partenariats dans le monde entier qui permettent aux étudiants d’aller à l’étranger.

As a country, we have moved forward in increasing the number of international students coming to Canada. We’ve seen the benefits. They generate well over $8 billion a year to Canada’s economy and they bring us a glimpse of different cultures, languages, traditions and economies. It leads to a fresh perspective on our campuses and in our communities.

Those international students are getting a clearer view of the world. Canadian students need that too.
Currently, just 12 percent of Canadian university graduates have a study-abroad experience. That’s about 25,000 students a year. We can do better.

Many in this room shared our excitement when the late Jim Flaherty and Ed Fast established an expert panel to create an international education strategy for Canada.

avid Barnard AUCC Board of Directors Chair and University of Manitoba President Economic Club Speech September 25 2014

David Barnard, board chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and president of University of Manitoba introduces Paul Davidson.

Led by Amit Chakma, President of Western University, the panel of business and postsecondary leaders called for the creation of 50,000 opportunities per year for Canadian students to go abroad for study and cultural exchanges.

We know there are barriers, cost being among the largest.

The panel also called for a partnership among governments, academic institutions and the private sector in helping fund Canadian students to become global citizens.

Listen to what Mark Wiseman said to graduates at Queen’s University in the spring. You’ll know Mark as president and CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Here’s what he had to say in a convocation address:

“It used to be that immigrants to this country were at a disadvantage. Today, those who aren’t bicultural or multicultural need to get up the global curve and fast. At CPPIB we look to hire people who have global experience. If you grew up in north Toronto, went to [a Toronto university] then worked at a downtown bank and your view is that the Far East is Oshawa, you need not apply… A student in China can, just as easily as you, apply to a job posting for a company in your own backyard. Figure out how to get a job in their backyard.”

By the way, in just one month, 1,700 people from 20 countries visited the Pension Plan Investment Board’s career page.
Now that doesn’t mean we forget about Canada. Let’s come back to that younger me. Even Toronto to Peterborough was farther than most students travel for their postsecondary education.

In a country that covers 9.9 million square kilometres, most students receive all of their education from kindergarten to university within 50 kilometres of the place they call home. Just one in 10 crosses a provincial border to study in another province. It’s understandable. Comfort, familiarity, important bonds with family and cost are all factors.

Now imagine adding a wider Canadian perspective to impressive graduation credentials. That too would benefit us all. Wouldn’t it be better to have an urban planner who understood small communities and large cities? A teacher who had lived and worked and learned in an Aboriginal community? An engineer who has seen what’s happening in another part of Canada?

Finding a creative and collaborative means of resourcing new opportunities for domestic mobility could reshape what it means to be a Canadian.

As plans are under way for Canada’s sesquicentennial in 2017, universities are looking beyond.

How will Canadians define ourselves? Will we be open to a much bigger concept of home and community? Will we be ready to go where the jobs are, to where our skills are really needed?

We also need to ask: Will we ensure that every Canadian has an opportunity to achieve?

Fewer than 10 percent of Aboriginals between the ages of 24 to 64 have a university degree. That’s one-third the rate of non-Aboriginals.

Nous savons qu’une formation universitaire rapporte au Canada et aux Canadiens. Actuellement, le faible taux d’accès des Autochtones à l’université les empêche de participer pleinement à notre économie et à notre société. Il nuit à la cohésion sociale et prolonge les inégalités historiques.

Les universités canadiennes ont établi de nombreux partenariats avec les Premières nations, les Inuits et les Métis. Elles offrent aussi des cours, des activités de sensibilisation, et de l’aide financière. Les étudiants des Premières nations, inuits et métis peuvent obtenir des conseils et du soutien, et maintenir les liens avec leur culture.

Many also run successful outreach programs in Aboriginal communities, providing support and mentoring to students as early as elementary school.

James Harper, for example, was a high achiever and scholarship recipient. He didn’t imagine he’d need support at university but something was missing. He felt out of place. A friend at the University of Manitoba sent him to the Engineering Access Program. It’s a community of support for students of Aboriginal ancestry. It offers a lounge, a lab, and tutoring for students working to qualify for the engineering program.

James liked the atmosphere immediately. He tells us:

“It was very easy to relate to people because many of us have stories of similarity, stories that I want to hear, stories that I want to build off of like going from reserve life and adjusting, getting over the culture shock barrier and graduating.”

That program has graduated the most Aboriginal engineers in Canada — 99 at last count, and growing.

We need more of that. And Canada’s universities can contribute to better outcomes for Aboriginal people.

Canada’s universities are making extraordinary contributions to this country. The one million Canadians who are working towards their first degree will most likely be in the workforce when Canada reaches our bicentennial in 2067.

That’s why I ask you to join us in our call to increase opportunities for young people, commit to sustainable funding research and research infrastructure, and to support the full participation of Aboriginal communities in higher education. To create smart skills, for a smarter Canada.

These actions will ensure that the young people with us here today and their cohort across the country will benefit for decades to come. It’s not just that they will benefit. In fact we will all benefit.

Thank you.

Commentary - September 24, 2014

The following op-ed was published on September 23, 2014

Recently, an editorial aired on CBC Radio One questioning the value of a university degree compared with that of a college education.

The author of the editorial, Ken Coates, is an alumnus of the University of Manitoba, founding vice-president of the University of Northern British Columbia and currently Canada Research Chair in Regional Innovation at the University of Saskatchewan.

He argued that there is a “mismatch between a university education and the contemporary job market.”

I challenge his view on universities and the workforce.

As president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba, I admit to having a certain bias in this regard. I am also chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, and so I am familiar with a broad spectrum of Canadian higher education institutions and their importance to our economy and the vitality of our country.

Accordingly, I can appreciate the relative value and importance in today’s economy of both a university degree and a college diploma. Encouraging enrolment in one form of post-secondary education over another is not productive; in fact, many of our young people flout the debate altogether and choose successful post-secondary trajectories that include both university and college education.

One only has to look at news headlines to appreciate the impact University of Manitoba graduates, as the example I am most familiar with, have on the lives of people everywhere.

Some of our medical researchers and students have returned from the field in Sierra Leone, working in the heart of the world’s worst Ebola epidemic.

Many candidates running in the upcoming civic election and as school trustees are University of Manitoba graduates.

And dozens of our students and faculty are involved in partnerships with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights opening this week.

University graduates have found positions in some of the most prestigious, the most impactful and the highest-earning professions.

According to Statistics Canada, between 2008 and 2013 some 800,000 net new jobs for university graduates were generated in Canada’s economy.

During the past five years, 20 per cent more jobs were created requiring a university education compared with six per cent for jobs requiring a college or trade diploma certificate.

Looking back even further, since 1990 there have been more than 1.8 million jobs created in Canada in professional areas, and more than 1.5 million of these were filled by university graduates.

In 2011, when the national unemployment rate was 6.2 per cent, the unemployment rate for university graduates educated in Canada was just 3.7 per cent, compared with five per cent for those with non-university certificates or diplomas.

New jobs demand more skills

A university degree provides an edge in today’s job market. Almost 90 per cent of young university graduates age 25 to 29 were in full-time jobs in 2013, and more than 80 per cent of these were in full time positions.

What’s more, the vast majority of these jobs did not exist five years ago. The demand for university graduates’ skills and knowledge will continue to rise.

Demand for university graduates across Canada is concentrated in professional, management and administrative occupations, but employment is growing at all post-secondary levels.

In fact, the majority of jobs facing skills shortages require a university degree, including: managers in engineering, science and architecture; managers in health, education, social and community services; optometrists; auditors, accountants and investment professionals; registered nurses, dietitians and nutritionists; physicians, dentists, pharmacists and veterinarians.

Additionally, data show that income increases more rapidly for university graduates in full-time positions, compared with employees in trades, apprenticeship positions or with college diplomas.

Secondary education the way forward

Young people make their choices accordingly, and most of them do quite well by those choices, whether they achieve university degrees or college diplomas.

Indeed, the large number of youth in their 20s who have already completed trade, apprentice and college programs counters the mistaken impression that everyone goes to university.

In fact, more young men and women in their 20s have completed a college level program than a bachelor’s degree.

No matter what path they take, a post-secondary education will help ensure they enjoy rewarding careers and contribute productively to the economy.

Should these young people chose to attend university, they will find they have the opportunity to learn in many exciting settings, whether through co-op placements or internships, service or co-curricular learning.

University students today are often involved in studies on peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

They are contemporary musicians and actors performing on stages across North America and abroad.

They are in devoted farming families, raising crops to feed Canada’s ever-increasing population.

Ultimately, university graduates can expect higher salaries than college graduates by the end of their careers.

But more importantly, the skills and critical thinking they acquire can take them across the country and around the globe.

The future is theirs to define and hold.

David Barnard is president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manitoba, and chair of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Commentary - September 10, 2014

The following op-ed was published in Embassy News, September 10, 2014

By Perrin Beatty and Paul Davidson

For all its connectedness, today’s global marketplace requires much navigation. Understanding the nuances of international commerce, politics, culture and language has become increasingly important to Canada’s economy. Whether it’s to pitch a new product, analyze trade patterns, or navigate licensing, the business need for globally aware graduates of higher education has never been greater.

Increasingly, Canada has those graduates. And in the federal government’s International Education Strategy, we see a critical commitment to internationalize the education of more Canadians and recruit more students from abroad who may meet our talent needs. This strategy has the potential to strengthen Canada’s hand in the competition for global talent, while improving our research linkages around the world.

The first comprehensive plan of its kind, the International Education Strategy is designed to bolster Canada’s international reputation for excellence in higher education and research. It aims to double the number of international students in Canada by 2022 and lays out a blueprint for enhancing Canada’s education brand abroad, particularly in six priority markets: Brazil, India, China, Vietnam, Mexico and North Africa/the Middle East, including Turkey.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce welcomed the strategy as a positive step toward making Canada more innovative in a fiercely competitive global marketplace. As we develop and implement the best mechanisms needed to make a solid impact, we are ready to add our input and expertise.

Recognition of the importance of international education is growing. As a relatively young country of immigrants, Canadians know how doors can open when there is a common understanding among communities. That understanding comes from a well-educated workforce with global perspective and experience. The federal government’s Global Markets Action Plan, a global commerce strategy acknowledges that by targeting education as a priority sector and the attraction of talent as a goal.

Students today who have chosen to include studies beyond our borders as part of their education have broadened their view and seen the potential of the world. As graduates and new employees, they will know what it looks and feels like to work in another country.

Far from a luxury, industry needs students to have global experiences, to gain a cultural awareness that can’t come from a textbook, and to equip themselves with languages driving commerce in growing overseas markets.

Sending Canadian students abroad is one side of the coin. The other side is opening our doors to students from abroad. Beyond the diverse perspectives and experiences these individuals bring to Canada, international students could be a source for talent acquisition for Canada’s future labour market, helping us to address skills shortages and slowing labour force growth.

International research is an equally valuable focus of the strategy, fostering partnerships for Canada’s top scientists to collaborate with the best minds in the world and help us attract top foreign talent. With new funding for international research, the Canada First Research Excellence Fund is a tangible recognition of the connection between a vibrant, innovative and competitive Canadian economy and a world-class research system that always sets its sights higher.

Our universities are the subject of global attention for everything from innovation in nanotechnology to understanding the human genome. The attention is well-earned. Canadian university faculty members are among the most collaborative in the world.

As we work out the details that will make this new strategy as effective as it can be, all parties must be at the table – government, business and higher education. Now is the time to move Canada’s International Education Strategy forward. Now is the time to get it right. The consequences of doing anything less are too high. The global marketplace is contending. We cannot be outpaced.

As representatives of business and universities, we have separate memberships and our own organizational goals. But our paths cross as we work as representatives of Canada. Whether it’s connecting on a trade mission or working with governments, the bigger picture emerges in our shared desire to keep Canada competitive and prosperous.  We want graduates of higher education to have the global skills imperative for our changing world, and the International Education Strategy will help accomplish this.

It’s time for Canada to invest in making the vision of the International Education Strategy become a reality. As partners in education and business, we’re on board.

Paul Davidson is president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

Perrin Beatty is president and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.


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