Public, private and church institutions

The distinction between public, private and church institutions is about the administrative status. The higher education landscape in Canada is predominantly state-dominated. So the majority of universities and colleges are public.

There are just five private, recognized (Recognized) universities, are not taken into the large number of theologically oriented universities.

  • Public: Controlled / managed by a body whose members have been elected or appointed by a public body under the supervision of a public body.
  • Private not-for-profit: Controlled / managed by a body whose members have not been selected by a public body. However, the institution was not founded to generate profits for individuals (such as owners, partners, shareholders, etc.).
  • Private for-profit: Controlled / managed by a body whose members have not been elected by any public body. The facility was established for the purpose of generating profits for individuals.

There are a number of private universities (profit and non-profit) that are not recognized but authorized. This means that they are entitled to award specific degrees within the framework of specific courses of study.

Some public and private universities and university colleges have a religious / denominational affiliation. They offer theological courses that prepare students for their future careers as ministers. Some of these institutions also have other subjects in their programs.

There are a large number of private colleges in the higher education landscape of Canada, a major country in North America listed on shoefrantics. They usually award certificates and diplomas. Most are entrepreneurs and offer very specialized job-related courses and programs. They are often called Career Training Institutes, Vocational Schools or Academies.


The individual provinces / territories finance the public universities directly. For this they receive funds from the Canadian federal government in Ontario. The universities are increasingly financed by research funds from business and industry and by international collaborations.

All post-secondary institutions in Canada, except for the CÉGEPs in Quebec, have tuition fees. These can vary considerably and depend on both the university and the chosen program. At most universities, tuition fees for international students are considerably more expensive than for local students. Private institutions usually charge higher fees than public ones because they do not receive government grants.

Quality assurance and accreditations

In Canada there is no national organization responsible for quality assurance and accreditation of programs. The responsibility here again lies with the provinces and territories. However, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) plays an important role in this context. All universities in Canada that are allowed to award academic degrees are united here.

There are also no official rankings in Canada. However, the Maclean’s Guide to Canadian Universities appears annually and plays an influential role in this area. It offers comprehensive information on the individual universities and rates them according to certain criteria.

Designated Learning Institutions

The Canadian government has taken various measures to make the Canadian university landscape, which appears confusing for foreigners, more accessible and even more attractive. The government wants to ensure that international students receive the quality education they expect from the country’s universities. Because of course there are “black sheep” here too. Students from abroad only receive a Study Permit for their studies in Canada if they are enrolled at a so-called Designated Learning Institution (DLI). Only institutions whose programs meet certain standards are on this list. The current DLI list can be found on the website of the Council of Immigration Canada (CIC).

Internationalization and competition

In the course of globalization, Canadian universities and colleges are increasingly trying to recruit students from abroad and to internationalize themselves more strongly. Under the heading of diversity management, the federal government is calling on universities to integrate First Nations more closely and to attract international students.

Diversity has become a decisive quality feature of universities and internationalization is now a primary goal of universities. They are increasingly trying to integrate international, global and intercultural dimensions into their profile. Be it in the field of teaching, research or in the field of service. They attract bachelor and master students from all over the world with internationally oriented courses, with the LLM and MBA programs being particularly popular.

In connection with the desired internationalization, a burgeoning competition between the universities can be determined. Due to the state-dominated university landscape, the idea of competition in Canada – in contrast to the pronounced competitive situation in the USA – actually hardly played a role before.

Other special features of the higher education landscape in Canada

  • Outside of Quebec, many provinces have at least one French-speaking university offering degree programs. There are a number of English-speaking universities in Quebec.
  • In some provinces there are universities, colleges and institutes that offer programs specifically aimed at First Nations and Métis.
  • Canada is one of the leading nations when it comes to distributed learning (distance and online learning), thereby expanding access to higher education. All provinces have corresponding offers.

University System in Canada Part 2

University System in Canada Part 2
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