Research summary - Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian post-secondary education

Official title: Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Post-Secondary Education in Canada

Author of report: Penny Haloulos

Alternate formats

Impacts of COVID-19 on Canadian post-secondary education: Alternate Formats [PDF - 240 KB]

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Why this study

In March 2020, governments in Canada put into place stay-at-home orders and physical distancing guidelines. To slow the spread of COVID-19, governments closed schools and businesses. This report reviews how COVID-19 affected post-secondary education (PSE) in Canada, such as:

  • areas of PSE that the federal government supported
  • areas where there are gaps in PSE supports, and
  • how other countries supported PSE

What we did

The report reviews data from many sources. It compares Canadian PSE before and during COVID-19. The report also compares PSE in Canada since COVID-19 to other countries.

What we found

Since COVID-19:

  • in-person learning shifted to online learning
  • students feel frustrated from online learning. Reports of depression and anxiety have increased in students. In response, Canadian provinces put more money into mental health supports for students
  • the number of students from other countries enrolling to study in Canada may drop. This may cause major funding losses for post-secondary institutions in the future
  • the number of students working in their area of study decreased. In response, the Government of Canada (GoC) invested in creating more job opportunities for students related to their field
  • unemployment rates have increased for Canadian youth and recent graduates. This may contribute to the 5% increase in post-secondary enrolment in September 2020
  • the GoC has put more money into helping students and recent graduates in financial need
  • Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany put more money in supports for:
    • current students
    • recent graduates
    • post-secondary institutions, and
    • developing new education and training programs

What it means

The results will inform knowledge and evidence to support policy and program development.

Contact us

Learning Branch, Learning Policy and Services Directorate, Policy, Planning and Partnerships Division


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