CICan Network Updates

Main Content

International Partnerships

February 2020 - June 2020

1. Impact of Covid-19 on International Students

As the spread of COVID-19 began to have an impact on campuses across Canada, ensuring that international students are not negatively impacted for reasons beyond their control became a key focus of our advocacy efforts. In coordination with other national stakeholders, we worked with IRCC to ensure that work rights and Post-Graduate Work Permit (PGWP) eligibility are not be negatively impacted by the shift to distance learning or the inability to actively pursue studies. Exempting study permit holders from travel restrictions was a significant, and ultimately successful ask. All the while, we sought and received answers to some of your most pressing questions.

In consultation with member institutions, we understood that additional flexibility was needed. We, therefore, pushed IRCC to allow international students to begin studies from abroad and remain eligible for the PGWP. Ultimately, IRCC agreed to a temporary policy change such that study permit holders could complete up to 50% of their program (beginning in May and/or June) from outside of Canada. Further recommendations from CICan and other national stakeholders, led to this temporary policy change being extended to include the fall 2020 intake. Knowing that the 50% in Canada requirement may pose challenges for students who began short term programs in 2020, we are asking that this be applied to the total length of studies, rather than on a program basis and that institutions be authorized to offer a leave from studies should students not be able to travel for the fall semester.

While these accommodations have helped position Canada for continued success in a competitive global environment, many challenges remain with respect to IRCC’s processing capacity and the ability to submit complete applications. We continue to recommend that study permits be processed and approved, conditionally, in the absence of Biometrics and that online language tests be accepted, on a pilot basis, through the Study Direct Stream. Knowing that an approved study permit is required for time spent studying abroad to count toward PGWP eligibility, we continue to work with our members to better understand anticipated volumes and with IRCC to ensure that processing capacity is deployed such that it will be able to meet the demand.

At the end of April, CICan members reported that applications for the fall intake were down, on average, 33%. As of May 15, 43 CICan members reported having issued close to 95,000 LOAs for the fall intake, with approximately 56,000 having been accepted. Based on historic trends, we anticipate that approximately 165,500 international students would have begun their studies at a college or institution throughout 2020, approximately 90,000 in the fall. Despite some setbacks, the demand for Canadian education remains strong. We are therefore actively working with IRCC to ensure that strong business resumption plans are in place to deal with large volumes more generally, but specifically in places like India, France and across the African continent.

Though travel restrictions remain in place, we are working with the highest levels of government, and with national and provincial stakeholders to develop a high-level framework, outlining roles and responsibilities for students and institutions, to facilitate the return of international students to Canada in accordance with public health guidelines.

For more information please contact Andrew Champagne.

2. Update on Outbound Mobility Pilot

Colleges and Institutes Canada and Universities Canada have been working closely with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) on the design of the new outbound student mobility pilot program. Both organizations had been ready to launch in the spring of 2020 via a competitive call for proposals. This launch has been delayed due to the global outbreak of COVID-19 and the allocation of continued program funding is pending ministerial approval. As the Government of Canada navigates a path forward through the crisis, they have assured us that the outbound student mobility program remains an important priority.

Both associations have been closely monitoring the situation and, in May 2020, consulted with universities and colleges to gauge how the pandemic has impacted international study/work abroad programs at the institutional level, consider the implications on program dimensions and targets, and share key considerations.

We have recommended that the federal government include the outbound student mobility program in Canada’s recovery effort and that a timely re-commitment of funding will allow institutions to plan resources and develop programming that will equip Canadians with the skills to succeed in the new emerging economy.

Recognizing that there remains a high degree of uncertainty with respect to how the pandemic will continue to impact global mobility, both associations have suggested that a phased approach is likely an effective way to launch the pilot while aligning with a global period of recovery, readjustment and return to stability. This three-phased approach would include:

  • Phase I – Recovery and readjustment (2020-2021): This phase would focus on quality program design at the institutional level with the intention of adjusting services and building capacity to ensure safe study/work abroad experiences in later phases. Activities could include: designing and implementing innovative approaches, strengthening partnerships in Canada and abroad, adjusting wraparound services to this new reality, increasing awareness of the program on campus, and offering virtual mobility experiences that could help students build international relationships and develop intercultural competencies.
  • Phase II – Re-engagement (2021-2022): This phase would offer a gradual return to physical mobility. This phase could include activity in more traditional countries and the participation of more traditional student groups. This could also be an opportunity to explore other modalities to mobility such as domestic mobility. Given current travel restrictions and safety concerns, domestic mobility could be an effective alternative to help achieve the program objectives of investing in underrepresented students, developing intercultural competencies, and enhancing workplace skills.
  • Phase III – Implementation (2022 – 2025): In this phase, the program would be fully implemented with a renewed focus on non-traditional destinations. To meet original program targets and objectives the current program end date of March 2024 should be extended by a minimum of one year.

Our intention is to launch the first call for proposals in the fall of 2020, with the first cohort of grant-funded students going abroad in the spring of 2021, or sooner if possible. We will continue to provide updates when available.

For more information please contact Andrew Champagne.

3. International Cooperation Projects

CICan has been consulting with local partners and Canadian colleges and institutes to support them during this pandemic and to ensure that the planned outcomes and deliverables are creatively achieved.

In addition, we are working with Global Affairs Canada (GAC) to allow greater flexibility in the implementation of ongoing projects, and in some cases, in reviewing activities to achieve results, but also to respond to post-COVID.

The team would like to thank the colleges and institutes participating in Education for Employment (EFE) projects for their support and their availability over the past few weeks to answer our questions and to participate in various virtual meetings. We also want to acknowledge your flexibility in adjusting your activities, reports and work plans to reflect the new reality caused by this pandemic.

Senegal - ESP-EPE

PSG-EFE is working with the MEFPA to ensure pedagogical and didactic continuity, to support the digitization of administrative processes and to support the implementation of activities targeted in the action plan for the development of the e-jang platform . In order to highlight the work done by our members within the PSG-EFE project and its impact in Senegal, five video clips were produced recently. They present some of the project’s results through the beneficiaries’ point of view on themes such as: the place of girls in TEVT, relations with businesses, youth employability and CICan’s EFE partnership approach. The videos are available on the project’s YouTube channel and have been broadcasted on social media generating over 750,000 views and nearly 25,000 clicks and interactions.

New Project in Senegal– Negotiations are underway with GAC towards a contribution agreement for the ‘One Thousand Women’ project “Je suis Femme, j’Existe, je Participe” in Senegal. It is a 5-year $18 million project that will be carried out with our long-time partner, the MEFPA. We expect calls for proposals to be issued to CICan members in early 2021, or earlier if everything goes well.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.


Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) is pleased to announce the winning colleges following a call for proposals for institutional partners for the EFE Tunisia Al-Najah program, financed by GAC for a duration of 4 years. This second wave of three calls for proposals focused on co-constructed licensing programs using the Competency-Based Approach, short-term training programs, technical and pedagogical training of teachers, entrepreneurship, and institute/enterprise partnerships:

  • Sidi Bouzid B-03: Collège de Maisonneuve (Specialization in Food Processing)
  • Tozeur B-04: Cégep de Jonquière (Specialization in Renewable Energy)
  • Médenine B-06: Collège Boréal, in consortium with Cégep de Jonquière (Specialization in Renewable Energy)

There is still an opportunity for you to collaborate on the Tunisia Al-Najah EFE program. We will be launching the last two calls for proposals for strategic partnerships in women’s employability and entrepreneurship as well as teacher training for the ISET network in August.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.

Pacific Alliance

The EFE-PA program is pleased to share the report from the forum “Indigenous Communities, EFE and the relationship with the Extractive Sector (ES)”, the video of the event and the participant testimonies. These tools include examples of policies and best practices that could contribute to strengthening the dialogue between the extractive sector and indigenous communities. English and French versions of the report will be available in the coming weeks. For more information, please see our most recent newsletter.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.


In light of the COVID-19 situation, the Brazilian Basic Education Teachers Program has been postponed to 2021.

Approximately 100 Brazilian teachers will come to Canada for professional development and for English language training in May and June 2021. Fanshawe College and Niagara College were selected to deliver this training.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.

Young Africa Works – Kenya (YAW-K-TVET)

Kenya COVID-19: The National Emergency Response Committee has directed a continued cessation of movement and closures until June 6. CICan staff are teleworking. Youth continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

With regards to thematic partnerships: CICan completed interviews with the Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (TVETA), Curriculum Development Assessment/Certification Council (CDACC), Kenya National Qualifications Authority (KNAQ) and the MOE to select Canadian colleges for thematic partnerships (Curricula Gap Audit, Pre-service/In-service Training and Development of PLAR Guidelines/Tools. Successful candidates will be announced early June.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

Kenya Education for Employment Project (KEFEP) / IDRC Supporting Innovation in the Technical and Vocational Education Sector (SITVES)

KEFEP has readjusted due to COVID. Participating CICan member institutions and Kenyan partners continue to consult and explore ways to collaborate during COVID, including a survey. Despite shipping delays, the majority of equipment has been delivered.

As campuses have been closed, most equipment remains in containers for the time being. Course launches: all 19 new courses are approved. Course launches will take place in September 2020 or January 2021.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

Improving Skills Training for Employment Program (ISTEP) Tanzania

A small number of ISTEP partnerships have been extended to enable completion of activities.  CICan is exploring with Global Affairs Canada an extension to December 2020 so that unused funds/interest can support Tanzanian institutions as they prepare to provide students and staff with a safe study/work as campuses.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

Skills to Access the Green Economy (SAGE) Caribbean

SAGE completed its institutional partner orientation sessions in St. Lucia, guiding partners in the development of plans.  Ottawa based staff participated in five inception missions.  All partner contracts will be signed in June.

SAGE held 6 National Steering Committee meetings online. NTAs include TVET councils, employer organizations, Ministries of Education/Labour, IICA and Caribbean partner institutions. All country workplans were approved.

The SAGE Program Steering Committee (Caribbean Employers Association (CEA), Caribbean Industry & Commerce, Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), Global Affairs Canada and country representatives representing TVET councils, Ministries of Labour, Council of Community Colleges of Jamaica (CCCJ) and partner institutions was held.

The draft YR 1 Annual Program Results Report (APRR) and Year 2 AWFP were approved.

SAGE is finalizing its SAGE Apprenticeship Report that will serve as a basis for moving forward. The first SAGE gender webinar will be held on June 24.  SAGE Country Support Coordinators have been instrumental in providing support, links to share on Twitter and FB and climate change. Caribbean partners participated in the Global Women in Education “Best Practices in Online Learning.”

SAGE welcomes its new Senior Program Officer, Carlos Canales.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

4. Partnerships Development Updates

Responding to COVID: CICan has been brainstorming ways to respond and adapt international programming to this new context.

  • Research: The sudden change brought on by COVID will have significant impacts on our partners abroad and at our own institutions. How is COVID affecting CICan and its members’ capacity to deliver international activities, and how can we adapt? What is the impact of COVID on instructors and learners in our partner countries, and how are our partner governments reacting? How can CICan and its members continue to meaningfully support international partners in this new world? CICan is in the process of formulating a focused research question and plan for the coming months.
  • Learning Management System: With the sudden shock of COVID, the plans to explore a learning management system to facilitate international partnerships have been accelerated. CICan has been in discussions with D2L about their Brightspace platform, which could be used to facilitate the inevitable move of some international activities into a distance learning environment. More details will be available as discussions progress with D2L.
For more information please contact Camille Khoury.

Ivory Coast

CICan was contacted by the Government of Ivory Coast about receiving support from CICan and its members on the development and reform of their national TVET system. The Secretary of State for National Education has outlined his vision for potential collaboration and discussions are ongoing about the size and scope of a possible partnership.

For more information please contact Camille Khoury.

Latin America

CICan is in the early stages of discussions with Global Affairs Canada about separate project concepts in Peru and Colombia. While much of GAC’s focus has turned to support these countries and their responses to the COVID crisis, there are some opportunities to leverage Canadian college expertise in the health sector, and other sectors that will continue to need support.

For more information please contact Camille Khoury.


Following a scoping mission to Georgia in 2019, Georgia’s Deputy Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sports recommended CICan as a possible implementing partner for a World Bank project TVET and instructor training. CICan determined that it would be more appropriate for an individual college or consortium to apply for the mandate directly, so the opportunity was disseminated via the Small Opportunities Distribution List.

If you are interested in receiving international consultancy opportunities from time to time, please contact Camille Khoury to get your email address onto the list.

For more information please contact Camille Khoury.

5. Varia

The Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (IOHE), a partner of CICan, is offering an alternative to traditional models of student mobility via its new eMovies space, which gives higher education students the opportunity to follow distance education courses offered by other institutions and for which they can obtain credits under certain conditions.

Exchange offers currently exist in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. For more information, please visit: eMovies