CICan Network Updates

Main Content

International Partnerships

June 2020 - September 2020

1. Impact of Covid-19 on International Students

International education has been a major focus of our advocacy efforts over the summer. In partnership with other national associations, CICan put forward several recommendations to Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) as to how certain operational and policy adjustments could help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on international enrolments.

Many of these recommendations, including the introduction of a 2-stage approval process for study permit applications and, more recently, additional flexibility with respect to Post-Graduate Work Permit eligibility for student beginning, and in some cases, completing programs online, have been implemented. As the situation continues to evolve, we will continue to work closely with IRCC to ensure that students are not negatively impacted for reasons beyond their control and that Canada remains an attractive destination.

We have also engaged with various federal departments, including Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to advocate for travel restrictions on international students to be lifted as soon as reasonably possible. By the end of June federal officials from IRCC, PHAC, and Health Canada began consulting with provinces and territories with respect to institutional readiness to safely welcome international students back to campuses across Canada.

Provinces and Territories are asked to validate institutional readiness against a set of institutional readiness requirements laid out by PHAC. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to work proactively with your local public health unit to finalize your plans and share them with your respective provincial officials. We anticipate that the outcome of this process will lead to the phased reopening of campuses to international students, and further travel exemptions throughout the fall. To assist you in your preparations, we’ve worked with a strategic site selection company to secure preferred rates at hotels across Canada for the benefit of your students, if necessary. 

We are also aware of several reports of international students with valid study permits, or who had been approved for one before March 18th, being turned away by Border Service Officers upon their arrival in Canada or prevented to board flights to Canada. While IRCC has made efforts to provide some examples of what may be considered non-discretionary travel, we continue to engage with CBSA officials and the Minister’s office for a more predictable and consistent application of the Orders in Council, including the development of a standard set of information, or template, that institutions could provide to their students such that CBSA officers will more easily be able to assess the details related to their program of study and essential nature of their travel.

With respect to ongoing marketing and recruitment activities, CICan had planned an in-person mission to Brazil that will now be shifted online and undertaken in February 2021. Please consult mission details and indicate your interest to participate by Thursday, October 8th. This activity is being organized with funding from the government of Canada through CanExport and is being operationalized on a cost-recovery basis.

For more information please contact Andrew Champagne.

2. Update on Outbound Mobility Pilot

Over the past few months, CICan and Universities Canada have been working closely with Employment and Social Development Canada and member institutions to understand the impact of the pandemic on the future of outbound mobility programs and consider pathways forward to launch Canada’s new outbound student mobility program. As you may recall, the objectives of the pilot program are to increase the participation of underrepresented students in international study/work opportunities, diversify destination countries, and test innovative approaches to reduce barriers to study/work abroad.

We are pleased to share that in August 2020, the Government of Canada approved the transition to phase II of the program design, which includes the launch of innovation funds for Canadian post-secondary institutions this fall. Innovation projects will test new ways to strengthen mobility opportunities, improve wrap-around services, leverage additional funding, and strengthen information sharing and partnerships. This upfront investment is a confirmation of the government’s commitment to outbound mobility and is an important step to adapt outbound mobility programming to a new international education landscape, engage underrepresented students in the program design, and build the foundation for the full program launch in April 2021 or as soon as conditions permit.

Later this fall, CICan and Universities Canada will launch a call for proposals and administer a streamlined selection process to ensure that institutions have sufficient time to implement project activities, all of which must be completed by March 31st, 2021. Funding will be available for both individual and consortium-based proposals with each association administering an equal amount of funding for their respective sub-sector. Additional information related to timelines, funding parameters, and the application process will be shared next week.

In addition, the government is undertaking public opinion research in support of this pilot and is seeking assistance from post-secondary institutions to promote this study with students. Those who qualify for and participate in the study will receive a cash honorarium. Pheonix SPI is the firm conducting this project. Additional details and promotional materials can be downloaded from their website. They can be reached at

For more information please contact Andrew Champagne.

3. Partnerships Development Updates

Kenya Blue Economy

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) invited CICan this past June to develop a project proposal to support the emerging blue economy in Kenya. Blue Economy is defined by GAC as the “exploitation and preservation of the marine environment, including all bodies of water and a range of sectors including fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, and transportation, among others.” The project budget is $20 M over seven years. The objective of this new program is to increase economic opportunities for Kenyans, particularly girls and women, by increasing their participation in the blue economy, and by strengthening the quality of blue economy skills training programs at Kenyan TVET institutions. CICan has spent the summer consulting with Kenyan partners, and a consultation session with CICan members was held on September 3rd. The PowerPoint presentation can be made available upon request. The proposal deadline is September 30th, and implementation should begin mid-2021.

For more information please contact Camille Khoury.


Following a scoping mission to Azerbaijan in 2019, CICan has recently been in contact with Azerbaijan’s State Employment Agency about possible avenues for collaboration regarding support for supporting the development of training centres and training of trainers.

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

For more information please contact Camille Khoury.

China and Vietnam

Earlier this year CICan has applied and been approved for funding under the CanExport — Associations program to support marketing missions to China and Vietnam, focusing on showcasing Canadian colleges’ expertise in the elder care and hospitality/tourism sectors, respectively. Given that travel restrictions will likely persist for the remainder of this fiscal year, we are in discussion with Global Affairs Canada to shift these activities online and use the surplus funds to develop marketing materials (promotional videos) featuring members’ education and training capabilities in high-demand sectors such as healthcare, hospitality, advanced manufacturing, and digital technology.

We are also working with the China Education Association for International Exchange (CEAIE), our long-term, partner in China, to organize a series of webinars to facilitate knowledge-sharing and partnership-building among TVET practitioners and institutions this fall. 

For more information please contact Xin Qin.

4. International Cooperation Projects

EFE Tunisia Al-Najah

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, the Tunisian and Canadian partners of the Tunisia Al-Najah EFE program are continuing their activities. The first three partnerships with the ISETs of Béja, Kef and Kébili will implement in the coming weeks innovative virtual means to carry out work situation analyzes and the development of new study programs while providing the required training.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.


In the context of COVID-19, the ESP-EPE project has been creative in adapting its activities to support its main partner, the Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training and Handicrafts (MEFPA), in the development of its e-jang distance training platform and in the development of online management tools. Three of these activities are underway, such as the development of a new virtual platform that will allow students to apply for admission online and institutions to transmit the results to the ministry in real-time; training on the use of a dynamic platform for decentralized human resources management with heads of establishments and a workshop with 50 trainers on the production and animation of virtual educational resources to feed the platform e-jang.




Other activities will support these efforts with the collaboration of our member colleges during the year.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.

EPE – Pacific Alliance

Save the dates! The PA-EFE Program is organizing its third thematic forum – The TVET Intersectoral Forum: Best Practices & Policies from the Pacific Alliance and Canada, virtually, Thursdays the 15th, 22nd and 29th of October (plenary sessions) and 5th of November 2020 (small group work). The themes that will be covered during events and the opportunity for intersectoral dialogue between experts from Canada, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru are the following: Inter-Level Articulation, TVET and Private Sector Alignment and Quality Assurance. Registration is open (no cost). Please note that interpretation services will be available. Agendas will be shared shortly.

For more information please contact Marie-Josée Fortin.

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

The initiative’s activities are shifting from the creation of the project infrastructure, i.e. workplans, requests for proposals, agreements, hiring, establishment of protocols and processes, to partner implementation and on-the-ground activities with adjustments due to COVID.

Canadian member institutions and their Kenyan institutional partners involved in one of the five institutional partnerships – Phase 1, have submitted their workplans, as well as those involved in our three thematic partnerships. Agreements have also been finalized with MEDA and CAP YEI. Activities start in the next few weeks.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

Kenya Education for Employment Project (KEFEP)

KEFEP adjustments due to COVID continue. Kenya’s TVET Cabinet Secretary recently announced that TVET campuses will remain closed until January 2021.  As a result, all 19 approved KEFEP educational programs are now expected to be launched at that time.

Canadian member institutions and their Kenyan institutional partners continue to collaborate virtually as they prepare for launch dates.  Ninety percent of equipment has been delivered to training sites with installation, commissioning, and technical training currently underway.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

IDRC: Supporting Innovation in the Technical and Vocational Education Sector (SITVES) Kenya

Workplans and budgets for 11 grants at Kenyan TVET institutions are being finalized and approved under the three project pillars.  The Canadian consultant, George Brown College, has adjusted its workplan because of COVID-related travel restrictions and is providing virtual support in the development of applied research and innovation hubs at four Kenyan TVET institutions.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.

Caribbean Skills to Access the Green Economy Program (SAGE)

Building on the success of CICan’s C-EFE approach and engagement across 12 CARICOM programs, CICan is now in the second year of SAGE implementation to continue to advance TVET across the 6 SAGE countries with a focus on youth and women in the green economy.

During this last quarter, our CICan member institutions have been contracted and all have submitted their 3-year workplans. We held a very successful gender equality (GE) workshop virtually this quarter, having greatly increased participation due to the virtual format. Our members are now beginning implementation of virtual activities, as planned considering COVID.

For more information please contact Susan Sproule.