Evaluation – GSO mid-term evaluator

Global Skills Opportunity: Midterm Evaluation Terms of Reference  

Program background and objectives 

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 in-come students —who have not traditionally been able to participate in such programs due to financial, logistical or other barriers. 

Through this project, Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada administer grant funding to post-secondary institutions (PSI) in Canada in order to fund study or work abroad opportunities for students, in a manner that addresses three key objectives:  

  • Increase the participation of underrepresented students, including those from low-income families, Indigenous students, and students with disabilities;   
  • Diversify destination countries where Canadian students pursue international learning opportunities; and,  
  • 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).  

Please see Appendix A for the program logic model. 

Project Management Arrangements 

The project is jointly managed by Universities Canada (UC) and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan), with local project administration by partners post-secondary institutions (universities and colleges). 

Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada are the technical lead for their respective sectors. They hold separate contribution agreements with ESDC and are individually responsible for disbursing funds to Canadian post-secondary institutions through call(s) for proposal(s), monitoring and evaluating progress toward results, leading strategic communications activities, sharing learnings and best practices amongst the post-secondary sector, increasing the evidence base on the impact of outbound mobility programming, and co-convening advisory group meetings in partnership with Universities Canada. They share the same Logic Model and are responsible for reporting on the same KPIs, though their respective PMFs differ slightly in terms of substance. They have taken slightly different approaches to implementation that align with established practices at each respective organization.  

Purpose, objectives and scope of the evaluation 

The midterm evaluation is intended to be formative in nature and provide information on the progress of the program towards its intended objectives from May 2020 to January 2023. The results will be shared with stakeholders, used to advocate for renewed funding, and to strengthen the program going forward both in terms of policy and implementation. 

Evaluation framework/criteria and key questions 

The evaluation will utilize the framework of: Relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, sustainability, with a focus on the progress and potential of the program where evidence of longer-term results are not yet available. 

Evaluation questions will be finalized by the contracted external evaluator(s) and Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada as part of the Inception Report, and will speak to the following overarching questions: 

  • To what extent have the intended outcomes, for which UC and CICan are accountable, been achieved? For longer-term outcomes, what evidence is there that these outcomes have the potential to be achieved by the end of the program? 
  • What are the factors that have facilitated or impeded (or have the potential to faciliate or impede) the achievement of these outcomes? 
  • Were there any unintended/unexpected outcomes achieved? 
  • Is the logic model for the project accurate and complete and have the assumptions held true? Does the logic model need adjustments? 
  • What are some of the program successes and lessons learned and how can they inform policy going forward?  
  • What changes should be made in the strategic use of project resources going forward – to achieve the intended outcomes? 
  • Given the intended outcomes, are there ways in which overall project implementation could be improved?  

Evaluation methodology 

The evaluation will be an independent midterm evaluation, utilizing mixed methods, with an overall participatory approach that involves UC and CICan and key stakeholders. While the detailed methods will be worked out by the contracted evaluator in the inception report, the following methods are proposed: 

  • Desk review and analysis of key documents (i.e. logic model, project PMF etc.) 
  • Desk review and analysis of monitoring data, including data from: 
    • University and Colleges Baseline Survey 
    • Pre-departure forms (before participant starts) 
    • Post-experience reports (after scholar completes) 
    • University financial and narrative reports (biannually and annually) 
    • 2020 Innovation project final reports 
    • College financial and narrative reports (quarterly)  
  • Interviews with program participants 
    • Post-completion/follow-up surveys of program participants 
    • Interviews with program staff and administrators (UC, CICan, PSI staff) 

Additional program information will be provided to the evaluator upon request after signing the project contract.  

Main deliverables 

  • Inception report (10-15 pages) for review and approval by UC and CICan 
  • Presentation of preliminary findings for discussion 
  • Draft report for review and inputs by UC and CICan 
  • Final report incorporating UC and CICan inputs and an executive summary (2 pages) 

Evaluation management arrangements 

UC and CICan will appoint a designated contact person from the program team (referred to below as the UC and CICan evaluation manager) to liaise with and support the evaluator. Other UC and CICan staff will engage with the evaluator as required. 

  • UC and CICan evaluation manager responsibilities: 
  • Brief the evaluator on relevant UC/CICan policies and procedures; Provide evaluator documents for desktop review; Initial coordination with the project team and stakeholders on the schedule (i.e. for interviews);  Organize logistics for the presentation of preliminary results; Circulate the first draft of the evaluation report for comments;  Ensure the final version of the evaluation report address stakeholders’ comments (or an explanation why any has not been addressed) and meets UC/CIC  requirements. 
  • Evaluator responsibilities 
  • Responsible for conducting the evaluation; Coordinate with UC and CICan evaluation manager, project team and stakeholders to conduct the entire evaluation process; Proceed to a desk review of all relevant documents; Elaborate the inception report; Conduct data collection and analysis; Complete and submit the presentation of preliminary results, the first version and final report by agreed deadlines. 

Evaluator/Evaluation Team Qualifications 

  • Relevant post-secondary qualification with minimum 5 years of experience in project /program evaluation.  
  • Proven skills and experience in undertaking evaluations of projects in the area of post-secondary skills development and/or international mobility programs 
  • Experience with results-based management  
  • Extensive knowledge of, and experience in applying, qualitative and quantitative research methodologies;  
  • Experience with evaluation and reporting to major donors; experience with Government of Canada funded projects (i.e. ESDC, GAC, etc) funded projects would be an asset. 
  • Demonstrated proficiency in English and French (in the case of evaluation teams/agencies, at least one principal evaluator should have this proficiency) 
  • Understanding of EDI principles and gender-based analysis; experience in projects that focus on underrepresented groups is strongly preferred. 

Evaluation timeline and budget 

The maximum budget for evaluator fees is $40,000 CAD.  

The call for expressions of interest closes on January 27, 2023. Results will be shared by February 3, 2023. Project kick off meeting will be held the week of February 13, 2023. The final mid-term evaluation report is due April 30, 2023. 

Required documents for expression of interest 

  • A cover letter expressing your interest in the contract and how you meet the requirements 
  • Evaluator CV (for teams, include the CVs of all principal evaluators) 
  • Narrative Proposal (Maximum 2 pages) 
  • Proposed budget/timeline for completion of key activities and deliverables (can be included with the narrative proposal or as a separate document) 

Submission of expression of interest 

Please submit your expression of interest to Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada by 3pm ET on January 27, 2023 to Alice Valsecchi, [email protected], and Marie-Eve Bérubé at [email protected].  

Contact information 

For more information or questions on this RFP, please contact:  

  • Alice Valsecchi, Program Officer, Global Skills Opportunity, Universities Canada, [email protected]  
  • Marie Eve Bérubé, Senior Program Officer, Outbound Student Mobility, International Partnerships, Colleges and Institutes Canada, [email protected]  
Universities Canada