In Canada, the constitutional responsibility for higher education rests with the provinces of Canada. The decision to assign responsibility for universities to the local legislatures, cemented in the British North America Act, 1867, which was renamed the Constitution Act in 1982, was contentious from its inception. The Act states that “in and for each Province, the Legislature may exclusively make laws in relation to Education”. As a result of this constitutional arrangement, a distinctive system of education, including higher education, has evolved in each province. The federal government’s responsibilities in education are limited to the Royal Military College of Canada and funding the education of aboriginal peoples.
The higher education systems in Canada’s ten provinces include their historical development, organization (e.g., structure, governance, and funding), and goals (e.g., participation, access, and mobility). Each of the three territories in Canada (i.e., Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon) have separate higher education systems that reflect territorial history, organization, and goals in the context of geographical challenges.
Main article: Higher education in Alberta
Higher education in Alberta trains students in various academic and vocational specializations. Generally, youth attend school from kindergarten until grade twelve, at which time they have the option to continue into post secondary study. Students are required to meet the individual entrance requirements for programs offered at the institution of their choice. Once accepted, students are allowed greater educational opportunities through the province extensively developed articulation system. The Alberta Council on Admissions and Transfer (ACAT) enables students transfer between programs at any of the twenty public post secondary institutions, eight private colleges, and other Alberta-based not for profit institutions. To ensure a continued high standard for credentials awarded by post secondary facilities, the Alberta Ministry of Advanced Education established the Campus Alberta Quality Council with membership in the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education.
Main article: Higher education in British Columbia
The provincial government administers a higher education system that includes twenty-five publicly funded institutions, fourteen private institutions, and numerous private career training institutions or career colleges. Public institutions include eleven universities, eleven colleges, and three institutes.
Main article: Higher education in Manitoba
A major public review of higher education in Manitoba, submitted in 1973 under the title of the Task Force on Postsecondary Education, more commonly known as the Oliver Commission, recommended closer articulation between Manitoba’s universities and community colleges. The system remains a binary one, however, with few university transfer programs or college courses which can be applied towards a university degree.The Roblin Commission of 1993 and subsequent declining allocations of the public purse have made it clear that post-secondary institutions will have to find their own private sources of funding to make up shortfalls in general operating budgets.