Global Skills Opportunity – Terms of Reference
Best Practices and Lessons Learned on Virtual Mobility
Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada are in search of a consultant to identify and analyze best practices and lessons learned of virtual mobility and the impact of these opportunities on Canadian students for Global Skills Opportunity, Canada’s Outbound student mobility pilot program.
Universities Canada is a membership organization providing university presidents with a unified voice for higher education, research, and innovation. Universities Canada advocates on behalf of Canadian universities at the federal level and advances the mission of our member institutions to transform lives, strengthen communities and find solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world. More information is available on our website.
Colleges and Institutes Canada is the voice of Canada’s publicly supported colleges, institutes, cegeps and polytechnics, and an international leader in education for employment with ongoing programs in over 25 countries. CICan’s members add over $190B to Canada’s economy each year and contribute to inclusive economic growth by working with industry and community partners to offer more than 10,000 programs to learners in urban, rural, remote, and northern communities. More information is available on our website.
As part of Canada’s new International Education Strategy, Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada have been selected by the Government of Canada to design and administer a new outbound student mobility pilot program. This investment by the federal government will provide thousands of post-secondary students with the opportunity to study and work overseas, strengthening their global competencies and enriching Canada’s economic prosperity.
Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada welcome this transformative investment in Canada’s future, which recognizes the important contribution that international education brings to the Canadian economy. Canadians need to be globally fluent and connected, especially in emerging economies, to succeed in a rapidly changing and increasingly international labour market. This outbound student mobility pilot program is an important step forward to help more Canadians develop internationally valued skills, enrich employment opportunities, and help Canada’s economy thrive.
The $95 million Global Skills Opportunity program, part of Canada’s International Education Strategy, aims to give Canadian college and undergraduate-level university students the chance to study, work or conduct research abroad. The program places an emphasis on providing global opportunities to students from underrepresented groups—specifically students with disabilities, Indigenous students and low-income students —who have not traditionally been able to participate in such programs due to financial, logistical or other barriers. The program offers students valuable international experiences to enhance their career prospects while promoting diversity and inclusion in international education.
Through this project, Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada administer grant funding to post-secondary institutions (PSI) in Canada to fund study or work abroad opportunities for students, in a manner that addresses three key objectives:
1. Increase the participation of underrepresented students, including those from low-income families, Indigenous students, and students with disabilities;
2. Diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning opportunities; and,
3. Test innovative approaches (e.g., new tools, services, technologies or partnerships) to maximize uptake and reduce barriers to study/work abroad.
The program aims to reach 11,000 participants, with 50% of the program funding going to participants from the targeted underrepresented groups and 40% to non-traditional countries (i.e. countries other than the UK, US, Australia and France).
Scope of services and deliverables
The field of virtual mobility is still emerging. The pandemic forced mobility programs across the world to adapt and many countries and programs pioneered virtual mobility opportunities for their students and faculty. The practice has since gained recognition beyond the pandemic as a means to continue the benefits of international education when travel is not possible or desirable.
Global Skills Opportunity offers flexible programming including virtual and physical mobility experiences. Virtual Student mobility is defined as:
A form of mobility that uses information and communication technologies to facilitate cross-border and/or inter-institutional academic, cultural, and experiential exchanges and collaboration. Virtual mobility may include: Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL) with partner institutions, Online International Learning (OIL) experiences, faculty led programs, internships and practicums with international organizations and Work-Integrated Learning experiences.
The objective of this research project is to identify and analyze the best practices and lessons learned of virtual mobility and identify the impact of these opportunities on Canadian students. The research project will focus on virtual mobility programs and initiatives that provide opportunities for students to engage in international learning and collaboration through online platforms. The deliverables for this contract include the following activities:
1. Literature Review: A comprehensive literature review of Canada and international virtual mobility programming will be conducted to identify the best practices and lessons learned.
2. Review of pre-departure forms and post-experience reports: The consultant will be given access to data collected from GSO participants before and after their virtual mobility experience where students answer questions about skills gained. Conclusions from this data should be added to the final report.
3. Interviews: 8-9 interviews with project leads will be conducted to gather in-depth insights into the design, implementation, and outcomes of virtual mobility programs. The interviews will focus on identifying the best practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for the successful implementation of virtual mobility programs.
4. Report: A detailed report will be written, summarizing the key findings from the literature review, survey, and interviews. The report will include recommendations for the successful implementation of virtual mobility programs.
5. Presentation of findings: The final stage will involve presenting the findings and recommendations to Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada. This will include a presentation of the report, discussion of the findings, and recommendations for the renewal of the Global Skills Opportunity Program.
Evaluation timeline and budget
The call for expressions of interest closes on June 2nd. Results will be shared by June 12th. The presentation of findings and final summary report of findings and recommendation are to be submitted by August 31.
The maximum budget for the scope of services and deliverables is $18,000 CAD
Submission of expression of interest
Please submit your expression of interest to Universities Canada by 4pm ET on June 2nd to Johan Capo-Chichi at [email protected]
For more information or questions on this RFP, please contact:
§ Universities Canada: [email protected]