Postsecondary education has been a continuing focus for CMEC. In Learn Canada 2020, the current framework that ministers of education are using to enhance Canada's education systems, postsecondary education is one of the four pillars of lifelong learning. The goal for postsecondary education is defined as follows: Canada must increase the number of student pursuing postsecondary education by increasing the quality and accessibility of postsecondary education.

As well, one of the specific activity areas of Learn Canada 2020 addresses postsecondary capacity, with the objective to enhance and stabilize the long-term capacity of postsecondary systems to meet the training and learning needs of all Canadians seeking higher education opportunities.

CMEC currently has five priority areas of focus in postsecondary education, as follows:

  • Access and affordability – This area of work addresses how governments are supporting the transition of more diverse student bodies to postsecondary education; the right balance between tuition costs and student financial aid; and, how to address the perceived or real impact of unexpected tuition costs and affordability challenges.

  • Higher education and the labour market – This area of work looks at the role of employers and how they can be encouraged to play a greater part in preparing students for employment post-graduation in a high added-value economy; what more could or should be done by higher-education institutions, with respect to the delivery of learning, to favour continuing education and allow students a seamless transition to the labour market.

  • Postsecondary learning outcomes – This area of work examines which learning outcomes are most relevant to postsecondary education, which instruments can be used to measure learning outcomes, and how governments can benefit from using them.

  • Postsecondary sustainability and accountability – This area of work focuses on what are the key factors affecting the sustainability of higher education, including increasing costs, changing demographics, fiscal context, tuition or debt levels, and institutional specialization or differentiation.

  • Student transitions – This area of work delves into students’ transitions between elementary-secondary and postsecondary education, as well as their transition from elementary-secondary and postsecondary education into work. A student’s ability to transition from secondary school to postsecondary education and into the workforce can be seen as a key measure of the success of education systems, including for students from underrepresented groups and those with complex needs.

Currently, CMEC addresses these priority areas of focus through enhanced information sharing and capacity building; round tables, dedicated discussions, and forums of deputy ministers and ministers of PSE; and, analytical reviews on various aspects of these areas of focus.

While the areas of focus for CMEC’s work on PSE have shifted over the years, CMEC has held events and issued key documents and reports in the past that remain relevant to PSE in Canada today, including:

Other CMEC reports and publications on PSE issues can be found in our publications touching on issues such as affordability, credit transfer, quality assurance, and student debt.