Canada is a country with a wide range of universities, colleges, and other types of institutions, as well as an equally diverse range of quality-assurance frameworks. As with all postsecondary education matters in Canada, this responsibility rests with provincial and territorial governments. You can read more information on Postsecondary education systems in Canada.
This section describes more specifically the regulatory quality-assurance mechanisms in postsecondary education in Canada, such as:
- information on the broad context of postsecondary quality assurance in Canada;
- legislative matters that shape quality-assurance activities;
- qualifications frameworks and quality frameworks that define expectations;
- an overview of definitions and approaches taken;
- quality-assurance practices in each province and territory;
- international linkages; and
- issues in the sector.
Locate province- or territory-specific information
In Canada, education is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the country's ten provinces and three territories. As a result, the postsecondary education system for each province and territory has distinct policies and aspects that are more detailed than this section can cover, including quality-assurance provisions.
Similarly, it is important to note that Canada does not have a national network of quality-assurance agencies. Rather, there is an informal relationship between the provincial and territorial agencies, as well as an arrangement for monthly virtual meetings to discuss issues of common interest. The Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada (AAAC) is a pan-Canadian membership network of professional education accrediting bodies that operate within, and across, provinces and territories (e.g., Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board).
For more details about individual provincial and territorial systems, visit the Provinces and Territories of Canada section and select a specific province or territory.
Nearly all postsecondary education institutions across Canada have external oversight of matters of academic quality. Framed by a common Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) Ministerial Statement on Quality Assurance of Degree Education in Canada—which establishes standards and procedures for new postsecondary programs and institutions, as well as academic expectations by credential—the way postsecondary programming is regulated and monitored varies by province and territory.
Institutions in Canada that offer postsecondary education (sometimes referred to as tertiary) are given the authority to grant academic credentials by their provincial or territorial governments through a charter, legislation (act and regulation), licence, or ministerial consent. Institution type (e.g., private or public; university or college) is the typical determinant of the type of legislative authority granted by government. Consequently, the type of authority granted determines how quality assurance will be monitored.
Each province or territory manages quality-assurance matters differently: some manage quality assurance within government itself; some utilize external or arm's-length agencies; and some use a combination of oversight bodies based on the specific type of provider. Typically, degree-level programming receives some form of external quality assurance, whereas diploma, certificate, and apprenticeship programming is monitored by government processes.
Read more information about the Directory of Educational Institutions in Canada to learn about terminology associated with the legislative status.
Comprehensive review of this information: March 2022