Quality assurance practices for postsecondary institutions in Prince Edward Island

The postsecondary education system in Prince Edward Island is described in CICIC's Postsecondary Education Systems in Canada, Provinces and Territories. The system can be divided into four categories of postsecondary program delivery:
  • universities
  • colleges
  • apprenticeship
  • private training institutions

Quality assurance mechanisms in Prince Edward Island's postsecondary education system vary by type of institution and program. They include
  • legislation (statutes and regulations)
  • affiliation
  • external and internal review
  • professional accreditation
  • other mechanisms

The University Act establishes Prince Edward Island's only university and protects the university's credentials by stating that no organization other than the University of Prince Edward Island may use the term "university." The statute outlines the University's authority to govern itself through the operations of a board of governors and a senate. These bodies have the authority to determine all matters relating to programs and qualifications of employees, as well as all other matters deemed to be in the interest of the institution. No explicit reference is made to mechanisms for or accountabilities pertaining to quality assurance of educational programming. Program quality responsibilities are implied through the powers and duties assigned to institutions' internal governing bodies.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Act establishes the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) and applies to seventeen postsecondary institutions, including 15 publicly funded universities and two specialized applied arts and technology postsecondary institutions in the Maritime region. The act provides the commission with the responsibility of (a) reviewing the academic programs prior to implementation and (b) monitoring the institutional quality assurance policies and procedures. The commission is an agency of the Council of Atlantic Premiers, and it provides advice to ministers responsible for postsecondary education in the Maritimes.


The University of Prince Edward Island has no formal affiliations with colleges or other universities. It should be noted, however, that the Atlantic Veterinary College is housed within the University of Prince Edward Island. The AVC has professed and demonstrated strengths in aquaculture and fish health, biomedical or comparative medical research, and population medicine.

External and internal review

The quality of the University of Prince Edward Island's programs is addressed in three ways. First, programs are evaluated by the university's own process of self-study and review conducted in accordance with internal policies and procedures. Second, the MPHEC reviews all new program proposals and all significant changes to existing programs. The commission focuses on continuous quality improvement of programs and teaching. The overall objective of program reviews is to ascertain the suitability of the program given its objectives, structure, institutional appropriateness, resources, stated student outcomes, and their relevance. Detailed program proposal guidelines are provided to institutions.

The third quality assurance activity is the MPHEC's monitoring of quality assessment procedures used by institutions. This is especially important given that the cornerstone of quality assurance is self-assessment by the institutions. The specific objective of the MPHEC monitoring function is to ascertain that the procedures used by institutions to assess the quality of existing programs are performing adequately. The process is formative; institutional policies and practices are reviewed with a view to providing assistance and advice to institutions.

The process pays particular attention to each institution's mission and values. In both processes outlined above, MPHEC's quality assurance procedures start with internal reviews by the universities. For details on these procedures, contact the individual institutions. Full details on quality assurance procedures used by the MPHEC are available on the Internet.

Professional accreditation

Many of Canada's regulated professions have associations that conduct accreditation reviews of university programs pertaining to their professions. In these instances, accreditation teams from the professions review reports provided by the universities and may conduct on-site visits in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the professions.

Other Organizations Related to Quality Assurance in Universities

The University of Prince Edward Island is a member of the Universities Canada. Although the association does not perform formal quality assurance functions, it does maintain membership criteria that address the primary mission of institutions, the range of program offerings, the breadth and depth of programs, the nature of members' relationship with parent institutions, the size of enrolment, institutional focus on scholarship, academic inquiry, and research, and compliance with the principles of academic freedom and responsibility. Institutions applying for membership must host an Universities Canada Visiting Committee that reports to the Universities Canada Board of Directors on a variety of items and recommends a decision on whether the applying institution is providing education of university standard.

The Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada (AAAC) is a national organization composed of professional associations involved in promoting good practices by its members in accreditation of educational programs.


Holland College is responsible for providing a broad range of educational opportunity, particularly in the fields of applied sciences, policing and related occupations, business, culinary and tourism, engineering technology, health and community studies, media and communications, trades and industrial technology, language training, and adult education and is governed by the Holland College Act.

The board of governors of the college is responsible for the government, conduct, management, and control of the institution including educational policies and activities that relate to quality assurance in the following areas:
  • establishing courses of study
  • standards of admission
  • qualifications for diplomas
  • organizing examinations and examiners
  • creating academic boards and committees
  • recruiting all employees including the president

The board of governors is accountable to report annually to the minister. The minister tables the board's report with the Legislature.


Holland College has created partnerships and centres of excellence to enable it to focus on key resource industries and to customize training to industry needs. These partnerships provide graduates with the best employment opportunities possible. Holland College centres include the Atlantic Police Academy (APA), the Culinary Institute of Canada (CIC), the Summerside Waterfront Campus, the Marine Training Centre, the Prince of Wales Campus, the Georgetown Centre and the West Prince Campus. Holland College also has an affiliation with a number of postsecondary institutions in China. Students complete one year of language training before undertaking a two-year Holland College program, and credentials are issued to graduates by Holland College.

External and internal review

New programs are developed internally by college program and curriculum development staff and external representatives from industry using business plans approved by the board of governors. Initial program offerings are conducted on a pilot basis and reviewed with input from students. Existing programs are also reviewed in accordance with internal policies and procedures for updating and to ensure relevance to the demands of the marketplace. The college is implementing a continuous improvement process to ensure ongoing quality. Quality is also assessed through annual graduate surveys, full-time student surveys at the end of every course, and new student surveys six weeks following enrolment. Reports that include demonstrated response action and follow-up are prepared for review by the board of governors. Holland College is also ISO 9001:2008 registered. Through this process, every program and student service area is audited once a year, including a review of student progress and program delivery. The results have an indirect impact on overall program quality. There are no departmental review procedures or other external organizations to which the college is accountable for new or ongoing program quality.

Professional accreditation

Many of Canada's regulated professions have associations that conduct accreditation reviews of college programs pertaining to their professions. In these instances, accreditation teams from the professions review reports provided by the colleges and may conduct on-site visits in accordance with the policies and procedures established by the professions.

Collège Acadie Î.-P.-É.

The first opportunity for francophone Islanders to receive postsecondary education in French within the province occurred in 1992, with the establishment of the Société éducative de l'Île-du-Prince-Édouard. In 1994, the Société éducative established the Centre provincial de formation pour adultes in Wellington. They offer general education and literacy programs as well as various retraining courses and French-as-a-second-language courses. The Société éducative is a full-fledged member of the Colleges and Institutes Canada and of the Réseau des Cégeps et des CollègesFrancophones du Canada (RCCFC).


Apprenticeship training in Prince Edward Island combines workplace training and educational class instruction. The Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act establishes the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning as the authority responsible for apprenticeship matters. The act requires that the government appoint a provincial apprenticeship board. The board's main function is to advise the Minister of Workforce and Advanced Learning on labour market matters that relate to training and the certification of people in designated trades and occupations. In advising the minister, the board draws upon the expertise of various committees.

The legislation requires each trade to have a trade advisory committee (TAC) as a subcommittee of the Provincial Apprenticeship Board. The TACs are responsible for recommending the standards for training and certification, identifying the training needs and content for their trade, and reviewing educational class instruction curriculum.

External and internal review

The Provincial Apprenticeship Board is given responsibility, in consultation with the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning, to approve plans of training in each designated trade. Multi-stakeholder trade advisory committees are established to develop specific plans of training. These are provided to Holland College (the sole deliverer of the in-school technical instruction in apprenticeship in the province) for curriculum development. The college develops curriculum for in-school instruction based on national occupational standards established for each trade. The committee reviews the curriculum, making the necessary changes and reports to the provincial board. The board instructs the college to make the identified changes and deliver the training. Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning staff members work closely with college apprenticeship staff and address potential issues as they arise.

The work of the Provincial Apprenticeship Board and its trade advisory committees is supported and monitored by the manager of apprenticeship in the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning. The department reviews apprenticeship training programs for quality and relevance on a cyclical basis, with a goal of once every two years for each program.

An Interprovincial Standards "Red Seal" Program encourages harmonization of provincial and territorial apprenticeship training and certification programs by developing and maintaining interprovincial standards of qualification for Red Seal trades, in partnership with apprenticeship and certification stakeholders. The Canadian provinces and territories developed the Red Seal program in cooperation with the federal government (Employment and Social Development Canada) to standardize trade skill requirements and provide greater employment mobility throughout Canada. A provincial Certificate of Trades Qualifications bearing the Red Seal provides training recognition in most jurisdictions throughout Canada. For employers in other jurisdictions, the Red Seal is evidence of quality training and certification to nationally recognized standards.

Other Organizations Related to Quality Assurance in Colleges and Apprenticeship

Holland College is a member of the Colleges and Institutes Canada. Colleges and Institutes Canada does not perform quality assurance functions, but it does promote quality programming and the use of high academic standards by conducting research and facilitating broad discussion on quality assurance issues.

The Association of Accrediting Agencies of Canada (AAAC) is a national organization composed of professional associations involved in promoting good practices by its members in accreditation of educational programs. The Atlantic Provinces Community College Consortium (APCCC) was established in 1998 as an informal consortium of departments and institutions to enhance cooperation across the community colleges in the four Atlantic provinces of Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island. The activities, initiatives, and projects of the consortium are designed to reflect the values and principles agreed to by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) in A Report on Public Expectations of Postsecondary Education in Canada (February 1999). The key areas of performance expectations demonstrating these values and principles include quality and accountability among others. The primary activities of the consortium include sharing information, issues, and solutions and generally promoting consistency, cooperation, joint initiatives, and transferability across institutions. The impact of the consortium on program quality is indirect.

The Atlantic Apprenticeship Council (AAC) was established to share common concerns and economical opportunities for cooperation among apprenticeship programs in the four Atlantic provinces (Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island). A priority of the council is to adopt common standards for plans of training in all trade apprenticeship programs, including standards for curriculum development. Apprenticeship training programs in the Atlantic Provinces ensure consistent standards of achievement by using the same interprovincial standards for Certificate of Qualification and Red Seal examinations.


Maritime Christian College is a respected private institution registered under The Companies Act for the delivery of theology programs. It does not receive public funding. The college is governed by a board of directors and is not accountable to the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning or other external organization for program quality assurance. It is authorized to grant the following specified programs only: Bachelors of Arts (Bible); Bachelor of Arts (General Studies); Bachelor of Arts (Child and Youth) and Bachelor of Bible and Ministry.

Privately operated schools that offer postsecondary vocational training, that is, leading to the practice of an occupation, are regulated under the Private Training Schools Act and regulations. The law requires that such schools be registered by the province. To become registered, a school must meet the requirements set out in the law regarding curriculum, learning resources, equipment, instructors, and a number of administrative and management practices (student contract, fees, advertising, refunds, etc.). The school must also post a significant security bond to assure fulfilment of its obligations to students and renew its registration annually. The law provides for enforcement of standards by the Department of Workforce and Advanced Learning's administrator of private training schools - by means of assessing and approving any proposed training program, review by expert consultants, inspection, and disciplinary action, which may include calling for forfeiture of the security, imposing conditions on, suspending, or cancelling the registration.

External and Internal Review

Because of the competitive business nature of private training schools, a number of the institutions review their operations internally - by surveying their students' satisfaction, tracking the employment of graduates, and updating their programs from time to time.

As regulator, the administrator of private training schools strives to ensure adequate quality by means of
  • assessing and approving any proposed training program, to determine whether it is "industry standard"; and, if there is any doubt about the standard, arranging review by expert consultants
  • licensing instructors, which involves assessment of their relevant training and work experience
  • making inspection visits and student satisfaction surveys