1 Chapter 1: Introduction to Postsecondary Education and Government Involvement

A. Session Introduction

Working with the information from Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) (https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-training-colleges-universities), we will set the stage for the class by understanding the relationship between government and postsecondary institutions.


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When Canada was established in 1867, the Constitution Act distributed powers between the Federal State of Canada, and the Provincial governments (http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/distribution-of-powers/) . As a result, almost all things related to education became the governance mandate of the respective provinces. This, for adult education broadly, becomes somewhat complicated as there are certain educational ventures – such as those based in the federal portfolio of Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) (https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development.html) – that remain the domain of the federal government. It is clearer, however, that almost of all responsibility (outside of certain funding agreements) is the purview of the various provinces.

As you can see from the following page from The Canadian Centre for International Credentials (https://www.cicic.ca/1301/ministries-departments-responsible-foreducation-in-canada.canada) what the provinces call the Ministries varies greatly. From PEI’s Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning to Ontario’s Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development there are a number of approaches to the scope of the governmental departments overseeing postsecondary education.


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B. Learning Outcomes

At the end of this session, you should be able to:

  • Identity the various provincial ministries responsible for oversight of their respective postsecondary sectors.
  • Examine the similarities and differences for the college and university sectors
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This introductory session allows us to get to know each other, but also to identify the governmental structures in the postsecondary sector.

Connection to Theory

This session highlights the broadest political oversight of the postsecondary sector.

Connection to Practice

Policy is sometimes referenced as if there are no human actors behind its creation. Being able to identify the ministerial structures and the politics that correlate to the people in those roles is crucial for demystifying the effects of policy and governance of the post-secondary sector.

C. Session Resources

MTCU website (https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-training-colleges-universities)

Beaudoin, G. (2015). Distribution of powers. In The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/distribution-of-powers

Government of Canada. (2019). Employment and Social Development Canada. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development.html

The Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials. (n.d.). Ministries/departments responsible for education in Canada. Retrieved fromhttps://www.cicic.ca/1301/ministries_departments_responsible_foreducation_in_canada.canada

Government of Ontario. (2018). Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from https://www.ontario.ca/page/ministry-training-colleges-universities

D. Learning Activities

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  1. In the forum titled “Introductions” post your introduction. In addition to any the personal or career information you wish to share, you should also highlight your interest in the issues surrounding policies and governance of postsecondary institutions.
  2. In the forum called “MTCU”, post a 250-300 word reflection answering some the following:

A. Using the information from  The Canadian Centre for International Credentials website, compare your home province’s Ministry of Education to two or three other provinces’ or territories’ Ministries.

  • What similarities and differences do you see? Why do you think the Ministries governing postsecondary education are organized, and titled, the way they are?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of having the responsibility of postsecondary education delegated to the provinces?

B. Explore the MTCU website.

  • How do the services rendered differ from Colleges to Universities?
  • How are students supported?
  • What information is not disclosed, but might be useful on the MTCU site?