The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Mandate
The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) was established in 1974. The MPHEC is an "agency of the Council of Maritime Premiers." In June 1997, the Ministers of Education in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island agreed, after extensive review, to renew and refocus the Commission's mandate through an "Agreement Respecting the Renewal of Arrangements for Regional Cooperation Concerning Post-Secondary Education. This renewed mandate was ratified by the Council of Maritime Premiers. In January 2005, the new Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Act was proclaimed, giving full force to the Commission's renewed mandate.
The new legislation defines the Commission's mandate as follows:
The Commission shall, in carrying out its duties, give first consideration to improving and maintaining the best possible service to students as life-long learners by:
- Taking measures intended to ensure that programs of study are of optimum length and best quality;
- Stressing prior learning assessment and recognition, and credit transfer, to implement the principle that duplication of effort is not required in order to gain credit for learning which has been successfully accomplished;
- Promoting smooth transitions between learning and work;
- Promoting equitable and adequate access to learning opportunities, including making those opportunities available at times and places convenient to the student; and
- Taking measures intended to ensure teaching quality.
The Commission aims to assist institutions and governments in enhancing the post-secondary learning environment through the following nine objectives:
- Provide assurances that programs developed by institutions within the MPHEC's scope meet agreed-upon quality criteria.
- Confirm that institutions within the MPHEC's scope have appropriate policies and practices to ensure the ongoing quality of their programs.
- Facilitate and promote cost-effectiveness of, and accessibility to, the broadest range possible of programs.
- Collect, store and maintain quality, comprehensive and relevant information across all mandated functions.
- Devise data and information products providing stakeholders with value, across all mandated functions, especially related to key post-secondary education issues.
- Increase awareness of, and dialogue on, Maritime Post-Secondary Education (PSE) issues and opportunities, both in the Maritimes and nationally.
- Promote and facilitate cooperation within the Maritimes and with other provinces and external partners to, among other things, facilitate, among institutions and among governments for example, the development of cost-effective and collaborative approaches to PSE administration, programs and policies.
- Provide advice and services to the provinces, as requested.
- Ensure the effective and efficient management of Commission resources (corporate objective).
All of the Commission's activities and initiatives fall under one of these objectives.
In carrying out its main functions (quality assurance, data and information, cooperative action, regional programs, and providing specific services to one or more provinces or institutions as agreed to by the Ministers), the Commission focuses primarily on university education. There are currently seventeen post-secondary institutions within the scope of the MPHEC, fifteen of which are publicly-funded universities. Of these fifteen, three (Cape Breton University, Dalhousie and Université Sainte-Anne) also offer college-level or technology-based certificate and diploma programs in addition to degree programs. The remaining two institutions (Holland College in Prince Edward Island and the Maritime College of Forest Technology in New Brunswick) offer primarily college-level programs.