Building the best possible post-secondary system for Alberta

The Council of Post-secondary Presidents of Alberta brings together 26 presidents from post-secondary institutions across our province. Our purpose is to build the best possible post-secondary system for our province.

Post-secondary education is an engine for job creation and social prosperity in Alberta

In the past, post-secondary institutions led the R&D and trained the skilled workers that sparked Alberta’s economy. Alberta’s universities, colleges and polytechnics are poised to do it again.

Alberta’s post-secondary institutions express the values Albertans hold most dear—the optimism and drive to achieve your goals through hard work and persistent study. Our 26 institutions of higher learning build up Alberta’s economy and cultivate the next generation of talent.

Now is the time to discuss the future of post-secondary education in Alberta

Alberta’s population is young—three years younger on average than Canada as whole. By 2024, the number of young people in Alberta is expected to grow by 26 per cent. When they graduate high school, they will need places within Alberta’s post-secondary system where they will learn how to thrive in workplaces changed by disruptive technologies.

What we propose

From Today to 2025

For the post-secondary sector to drive Alberta’s growth, we propose three courses of action.


Every qualified student in Alberta deserves a place in higher education. We need places for an additional 90,000 students by 2025 to move towards the national average and accommodate Alberta’s growth rate.


Every qualified student should be able to afford education. We need to double the proportion of government student aid delivered in the form of grants and scholarships, with an emphasis on providing assistance to those from lower-income families.


Every qualified student should be prepared to work in an economy powered by new innovations. Albertans have the ambition and work ethic. We need the investment in training and research.


Every qualified student in Alberta deserves a place in higher education

Alberta’s young people need a place to study

Alberta is a young province with a growing population and the lowest participation rate for post-secondary education in Canada. The post-secondary system does not have enough places to meet the needs of Albertans.

90,000 new places for students by 2025

The number of school age Albertans will grow by 26 per cent in less than a decade. Just to accommodate population growth, Alberta’s post-secondary education system would need to grow by more than 40,000 places. To increase the province’s post-secondary participation rate to the national average by 2025, this number grows to 90,000 places.

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average PSE participation in Alberta (2007-2014)
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average PSE participation in Canada (2007-2014)
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increase in high school graduates by 2026
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growth in secondary school attendance by 2024

No qualified student should be denied education because of the cost

Affordability goes beyond tuition rates.

The cost of attending post-secondary education isn’t summed up in the sticker price of tuition. Relative to medium income in Alberta, tuition costs in this province sit among the lowest in Canada. One area where Alberta can improve affordability is to increase needs-based grants.

Double the support for needs-based student aid.

Alberta has the lowest percentage of non-repayable student aid of the 10 provinces in Canada. In Alberta, students owe 80¢ for every dollar received in financial aid. In Ontario, it’s only 35¢. Financial means should not restrict participation in post-secondary education. Albert’s talent pool should not be limited to only those who can afford to go to university or college. We need to double the proportion of government student aid delivered in the form of grants or scholarships, with priority given to lower-income families.

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repayable in ON
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repayable in BC
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repayable in AB
worker labour shortage by 2025

Become rocket fuel for Alberta’s entrepreneurial spirit

Post-secondary ignited Alberta’s economic engine

Alberta’s history as an economic powerhouse started with research and training. For example, Karl Clark's research resulted in the discovery of how to separate bitumen from oil sands in the 1920s. That eureka moment transformed into practical workplace know-how through decades of investment in research and training within Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.

Become the best in Canada at turning research and training into progress

Alberta’s post-secondary education system is a critical engine for job creation and the economic and social prosperity of Alberta. Research, innovation and skills development act as the catalyst. Creating the next great Albertan innovation starts with a commitment to research—even that which seems impractical at first. Preparing the next generation of Alberta workers starts with integrating work and learning. As automation erodes entry-level jobs, companies will expect students to mix higher level technical and soft skills. Investing in work-integrated learning like internships, apprenticeships and start-up incubators let future graduates hit the ground running.

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of R&D spending comes from PSE in Canada
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of students support more work-integrated learning
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earnings premium for PSE grads vs high school only
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PSE grads employed within 2 years (2014)