In Canada, as per the Constitution Act of 1867, education falls under the exclusive jurisdiction of the provinces. As a result, the provinces hold exclusive legislative responsibility for education and the exclusive authority to establish, manage, and evaluate educational policies and programs within their respective provincial boundaries. Similar responsibilities are delegated to the territories under the federal laws that created them.

The ministers responsible for postsecondary education in the provinces and territories convene as members of CMEC to discuss or take action on matters of mutual interest. The ministers also define Canada’s priorities for postsecondary education, with a goal towards enhancing its quality and accessibility (Learn Canada 2020). Examples of work undertaken by CMEC in the realm of postsecondary education include the following:

  • In 2007, the provincial and territorial ministers responsible for advanced education endorsed a Statement on Quality Assurance. This statement is intended to serve as a guideline in decision-making related to new degree programs and new degree-granting institutions within a province or territory. Additional information on the Statement on Quality Assurance can be found here.
  • In 2017, CMEC approved the CMEC Reference Framework for Successful Student Transitions along with two accompanying tools: a self-assessment tool and an action plan template. The reference framework embodies shared perspectives on transitions within and across education levels, as well as into career pathways, providing a series of benchmarks intended to support and promote good practice in student transitions. The self-assessment tool and action plan template serve as resources that can be employed and adapted by provinces and territories to gauge the development of initiatives and set out future plans within the context of student transitions. The tool and template may be of use to the many interested and relevant parties also engaged in work to improve student transitions.

Additional CMEC publications related to postsecondary education can be found here.

CMEC also coordinates and supports provincial and territorial contributions to international discussions regarding postsecondary education issues. These discussions take place at key multilateral organizations, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), as well as at major international education events. CMEC’s recent contributions in international postsecondary education initiatives include participation in:

In addition to their work on pan-Canadian and international projects and publications, CMEC committees on postsecondary education conduct ongoing information exchanges, program-related work, and policy analyses on matters of common priority. Topics include, among other areas of focus: access and affordability of PSE, student financial assistance, quality of education and learning outcomes, sector sustainability, governance, supports for Indigenous learners and Indigenization of PSE, work-integrated and experiential learning, digitalization, and short-term training programs including microcredentials.

The work of the Council, including through its committees, is informed by strategic documents. Aligned with the CMEC Strategic Plan, 2023–27, the CMEC Postsecondary Education (PSE) Strategy, 2023–27 sets forth the ministers’ shared priorities for the future of postsecondary education in Canada and reaffirms the importance of collaboration among provinces and territories. More information about the strategy is available here.