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Media release - August 28, 2014

OTTAWA – Students, parents and guidance counsellors searching for the right university and degree program have a helpful new tool at their disposal with today’s launch of, an online resource about Canadian higher education. The searchable directory includes university profiles and AUCC’s popular study program database – a top-ranked site averaging 60,000 queries a month. also features articles and tips for students planning their education and resources specifically for Aboriginal students.

“With this new website, AUCC is pleased to help students navigate the breadth of high-quality universities and programs offered across Canada,” says Paul Davidson, AUCC president. “More than one million students will be heading to campuses this fall and universities are committed to supporting their success, from selecting the right program to finding rewarding careers.” features more than 10,000 university study programs. With 30,000-plus visitors each month from outside of Canada, the new website will play an important role in international student recruitment.

AUCC is the voice of Canada’s universities at home and abroad, representing 97 Canadian public and private not-for-profit universities across the country.


Media Contacts:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director of Communications
613 563-3961 ext. 238 or cell: 613 608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer

Commentary - August 18, 2014

The following op-ed was published in the Ottawa Citizen, as well as on the websites of the Montreal Gazette, the Calgary Herald, The Province, the Vancouver Sun, the Regina Leader Post, the Saskatoon Star Phoenix and the Edmonton Journal on August 16, 2014

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

It’s been debated, misstated, mythicized and widely misunderstood for years. It’s been called a crisis, a lie, a disgrace and a blip. Now, finally, consensus is building about what exactly Canada’s skills gap is, and how we can fix it.

One million undergraduate students will soon be heading to university campuses across Canada for the fall semester, with another 700,000 students setting off for college. These young people need and deserve accurate and meaningful labour market information as they plan their future careers.

We may have turned a corner, in terms of understanding the problem and finding solutions, with two national skills summits held earlier this summer. Both gathered leaders in government, industry and education to reimagine the future of skills in Canada. At the National Skills Summit hosted by Employment and Social Development Minister Jason Kenney in Toronto, participants agreed upon the need for longer-term solutions and better collaboration among their sectors. And at the Skills for the Future symposium in Charlottetown, organized by provincial education and labour ministers, stakeholders discussed the need for higher skills across the labour market.

The dialogue is one that universities welcome. We know that Canada needs skills of all kinds – and that all skills need to be valued – if our country is to remain competitive in the fast-paced and rapidly changing global economy.

The real challenge is trying to predict Canada’s skills needs in the future, and preparing for them today. While the future of our country will be shaped in large part by the educational experience of today’s postsecondary students, Canada has so far failed to properly equip them with the information needed to make decisions about their own futures.

The most urgent priority in addressing Canada’s current and upcoming skills needs is for better labour market information. Students can’t make career decisions and governments can’t develop policy based on anecdote. We need the best possible labour market data drawn from reputable and reliable sources.

Secondly, we need an approach to skills development that includes all levels of postsecondary education. Yes, we need more graduates from apprentice programs, colleges and polytechnics. And we need more university graduates. Consider that Canada has fallen from fifth in university participation to 15th amongst OECD countries (for 25- to 34-year-olds). Trying to promote skilled trades by devaluing the benefits of university takes Canada in the wrong direction.

Think about the impact of media commentaries telling a whole generation of Canadians that their futures are bleak. It’s a corrosive and irresponsible message, especially when the evidence shows high employment and strong incomes for university graduates.

Energy and mining industries, for example, rely just as much on university grads as they do on college grads and skilled tradespeople, but for different types of jobs – including positions in engineering, management and community relations. Since 2008 in Alberta, 56 percent of net new jobs have been for university graduates. That’s almost double the number of net new jobs for college grads and more than triple those for tradespeople.

And finally, we must pursue more than short-term solutions for our country’s skills challenges. We have to look at what Canada will need five, 10, 20 and more years down the road and start preparing now. Narrowly defined skill sets aren’t enough. Employers already require a wide array of skills and abilities, including in technical positions. And many of today’s students will create businesses or be employed in new fields that don’t yet exist. We must equip all students to adapt, collaborate, lead and learn throughout their lives.

We’re taking steps in the right direction. Government, industry and educational institutions are doing more now to support experiential learning, which helps students transition to careers while also bringing fresh ideas to employers. Today, half of Canada’s university undergraduates have a co-op or internship experience before they graduate. But we can do more.

Getting the skills equation right is how we’ll equip a generation of young Canadians to achieve their potential and contribute to a new kind of Canada. In that respect, it’s hard to think of a better investment of our time, energy and resources.

Commentary - August 14, 2014

The following letter to the editor was published in the Windsor Star, August 13, 2014

Carolyn Thompson’s piece, Higher education leads to higher student debt, Aug. 7, is misleading and unhelpful to students trying to make informed decisions about their futures.

Over the last decade, governments and universities have taken measures to offset the costs of education for students who are most in need. That means that in Canada, 40% of university students graduate totally debt-free.  Of those with debt, 30 percent owe less than $12,000.  Average student debt today is less than it was in 2000.

The data continues to show that a university education is a solid investment. Even in the face of economic uncertainty, the demand for university-educated employees is growing. Between May 2008 and May 2014, more than twice as many net new jobs were created for university graduates than for college and trades graduates combined (878,000 and 437,000 respectively).

A university degree is a path to prosperity. And this fall one million Canadians will head to campuses across the country to follow that path.

Christine Tausig Ford, Vice-president, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

Media release - August 13, 2014
Topics: Study in Canada

OTTAWA – As summer winds down, Canada’s universities are preparing to welcome more than a million new and returning students to their campuses. The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada is happy to provide journalists with data and interview opportunities related to the start of the new study year and how Canada’s universities are preparing their students to be competitive in a mobile and globally connected labour market. Some points of interest:

  • This fall’s incoming class will have unprecedented opportunities for hands-on learning. More than half of all university undergraduates benefit from a co-op or internship experience before they graduate. (Source: Based on data from the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education and Canadian University Survey Consortium).
  • The number of students in co-op programs jumped 25 percent in just seven years, from 53,000 students in 2006-07 to more than 65,000 in 2013. In total, last year more than 1,000 co-op programs were offered to students at 59 universities in Canada. (Source: Canadian Association for Co-operative Education and AUCC estimates).
  • Within five to seven years after graduation, 96% of university graduates are working full-time and their median income is $63,000. (Source: 2013 Canadian University Baccalaureate Graduate Outcomes Survey).
  • Between May 2008 and May 2014, more than twice as many net new jobs were created for university graduates than for college and trades graduates combined (878,000 and 437,000 respectively). (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey).
  • Extractive industries rely just as much on university graduates as they do on college graduates and skilled tradespeople – but for different types of jobs, such as positions in engineering, management and community relations. For example, since 2008 in Alberta, 56% of net new jobs have been for university graduates. That’s almost double the number of net new jobs for college grads (31%) and more than triple those for trades. (Source: Statistics Canada, Labour Force Survey).

Read AUCC’s Back to School quick facts

Interview opportunities:

AUCC President Paul Davidson is available for media interviews about the experiences and opportunities in store for students heading to university campuses this fall.

To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact:

Helen Murphy
Assistant Director, Communications
613-563-1236 ext. 238 or cell: 613-608-8749

Nadine Robitaille
Communications Officer
613-563-1236 ext. 306 or cell: 613-884-8401

Media release - July 21, 2014

Watch for this early fall event

The Economic Club of Canada hosts Paul Davidson, president of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada

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

Paul Davidson

As students head back to class at Canada’s universities, join Paul Davidson as he tackles one of the most hotly debated questions in Canada today: What kinds of skills do young Canadians need to get a job – and build satisfying and productive careers? Mr. Davidson will take you behind the scenes to university campuses today and describe how universities are preparing young people for innovative and collaborative workplaces and what more Canada needs to do to produce these leaders of tomorrow.

Thursday, September 25, 2014
11:45 am-1:30 pm
The Fairmont Château Laurier (Room TBD)
1 Rideau Street, Ottawa

For more information on programming and tickets, including the purchase of corporate tables, please go to the Economic Club website.

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