Purpose of Ministry
Post-secondary education and research and innovation produce a range of public benefits for British Columbians. The post-secondary education system provides students with the knowledge, skills and training that communities, employers and entrepreneurs need, as well as the background and perspective to play an increased role in all aspects of society; research and innovation helps British Columbians overcome social and economic barriers and expand their potential through discovery and the creation of knowledge.
The work that yields these benefits is done by public and private post-secondary institutions and organizations, and by researchers and innovators throughout the province. More specifically, post secondary institutions develop programs and courses, provide education and training to students, and serve their communities. Researchers conduct experiments, analyze information, and develop innovations with social and economic benefits. Researchers and entrepreneurs then commercialize these innovations, and bring them to market.
Leading, coordinating and supporting this work is the role of the Ministry of Advanced Education. The Ministry provides leadership and direction, establishes policy, and provides funding to public institutions through operating grants and contributions toward capital projects, and to students through financial assistance programs. The Ministry also provides accountability for public funds by measuring and reporting on progress against desired outcomes.
Among the Ministry’s responsibilities identified above, only student financial assistance, which provides loans and grants to eligible students for education and living costs, is a service that the Ministry delivers directly to British Columbians. The British Columbia Student Assistance Program (BCSAP) is a needs-based program created to help eligible students with the costs of post secondary studies while enrolled at public and designated private institutions. The Ministry also administers student loan and grant programs on behalf of the federal government, the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and other ministries and agencies.
Aside from student financial assistance, all other public services for which the Ministry is responsible are delivered by institutions and organizations within the post-secondary system and research and technology sector. As these entities are partially or completely independent from government, various mechanisms are in place — including legislation, funding agreements and reporting requirements — to ensure accountability for public funds.
Public post-secondary institutions in British Columbia, like those in other provinces, have a significant and appropriate degree of autonomy from government in many areas. This autonomy affords institutions the necessary independence to determine how to meet the needs of their students, their communities, and the province most effectively.
The balance between institutional autonomy and the need to address government’s post secondary priorities is maintained through the Public Post-Secondary Accountability Framework, which supports funding agreements and reporting requirements that emphasize outcomes-oriented service delivery targets. The Ministry consults with representatives from public institutions to ensure that targets are reasonable while reflecting government’s priorities. These are communicated to institutions in annual budget and accountability letters outlining service delivery and outcomes targets and the funding the Ministry will provide. Public institutions allocate ministry funding as they deem necessary to meet their targets, and they provide the Ministry with information needed to ensure accountability for outcomes and public funding. Institutions also issue annual three-year service plans to inform the public of their goals, objectives, measures and targets, and annual reports to inform the public of the outcomes they achieved.
The internal and external governance and accountability structures for most public post secondary institutions are set out in legislation: the University Act, the College and Institute Act, the Royal Roads University Act, and the Thompson Rivers University Act. Each act provides for a board of governors with responsibility for operational and financial matters, and for academic governance structures with responsibility for decisions and advice concerning academic matters, including credentials, curriculum and academic standards.
In addition to public post-secondary institutions, British Columbia also has a diverse private post secondary sector that offers a range of education and training programs. Unlike their public counterparts, private post-secondary institutions are not directly funded by the Ministry. However, private degree granting and career training institutions are subject to legislative and regulatory frameworks including the Degree Authorization Act (DAA) and the Private Career Training Institutions Act (PCTIA). These frameworks address education standards and provide consumer protection for students enrolled in private and out of province public degree institutions and private career training institutions. In addition, BCSAP policies ensure that publicly-funded student financial assistance is available only for students enrolled in those private post-secondary institutions that are deemed eligible. There are currently 561 private career training institutions registered under the PCTIA and six private and out-of-province public institutions with consent under the DAA.
Part of the Ministry’s expanded mandate for research and innovation includes funding and overseeing the activities of the British Columbia Innovation Council (BCIC). BCIC supports the transfer of leading-edge research into industry and accelerates commercialization of world-class technology-based products for the economic benefit of British Columbia.
As a Crown Agency, BCIC conducts its affairs at arms length from Government. Under the Budget Transparency and Accountability Act, BCIC provides a service plan and service plan report to the Ministry. This service plan and service plan report requirement aligns BCIC with the performance expectations and objectives of the Government.
Vision, Mission and Values
Enabling British Columbians to prosper through education, training, research and innovation.
To provide leadership in delivering excellent, accessible post-secondary education for learners and enabling an integrated and dynamic approach to research and innovation.
The following values guide the Ministry in its work:
- A student-centred post-secondary education system.
- Excellence, innovation, creativity and continuous improvement.
- Relevance and responsiveness of the post-secondary education system.
- Recognition of the key roles post-secondary education, research and development play in a successful economy.
- Life-long learning opportunities for all British Columbians.
- A positive and supportive working environment.
- Open, transparent and consultative processes to facilitate effective working partnerships.
- Greater equity and equality for British Columbians.
- Results-based accountability.
- Fiscal responsibility.