Celebrating Convocation 2021

This is the first convocation season that follows an entire academic year in the shadow of the pandemic. While last year’s graduates were finishing their studies shortly after the pandemic began, this year’s graduating class is the first ever to have experienced a world entirely transformed by COVID-19. The world these graduates are inheriting appears as it never has before. As a result, Convocation 2021 is a convocation unlike any other.

Help us celebrate and get involved in the conversation

In addition to congratulating the Class of 2021, Universities Canada would like to use this opportunity to thank everyone at Canada’s universities for the work they have done in training the health-care providers, the researchers, the green energy innovators, and civil society leaders of tomorrow.

Join us!

To learn more about postsecondary education during the pandemic, the role Canada’s universities play in our society, and the ways in which this year’s graduating class is positioned to support social and economic renewal, see below for the postsecondary snapshot.

You can get involved in Convocation 2021 by accessing the #Convocation2021 social media toolkit to celebrate and take part in the conversation!

To read a recent op-ed about Convocation 2021 from Universities Canada president, Paul Davidson, click here.

The postsecondary snapshot

This year’s convocation is a celebration of what has been accomplished by our universities and this year’s graduating class – ensuring the continuation of postsecondary education, research and innovation in support of Canada’s social and economic renewal.

This year’s graduating class is poised to take the mission of Canada’s universities beyond the digital classroom, the lecture hall and the laboratory, and out into the real world. Convocation is just the start.

Here is why we celebrate:

  • Throughout the pandemic, universities responded quickly in the national interest and have continued to deliver in the areas of education, research and innovation – critical stabilizers as we seek economic and social renewal.
  • Investing in people and ideas will be key to Canada’s success. In a globally competitive economy, our higher education system is a competitive advantage.
  • In achieving the equitable renewal our society needs, we will benefit from the insight, perspective and resolve of a graduating class that has faced unprecedented challenges and ever-changing expectations, with the adaptability and tenacity needed to find the opportunities that will be discovered on the other side of disruption.
  • With changing demographics in a globalized economy, aging societies and investors around the world will soon be looking to countries with highly skilled workforces. Canada is one of these workforces.
  • Convocation 2021 is taking place as we arrive on the other side of the greatest global health crisis in generations. It is a story in which Canada’s universities and this year’s graduates show us what a new post-pandemic world looks like – equitable, innovative, and resolute. These values will help us meet the needs of a post-pandemic society.

In numbers

  • As a $39 billion enterprise in direct expenditures, universities are significant drivers of economic prosperity (2018-2019).
  • Universities employ close to 410,000 people and purchase products and services in their communities.
  • In 2020, 1.4 million students enrolled in Canadian universities, a growth of two per cent from the previous year and in keeping with increases during the last five years.
  • Enrolment growth in 2020 continued largely because of part-time enrolment – many people whose work lives had been disrupted took the opportunity to finish up degrees or to try out a program they may have been thinking about for years. These individuals are now ready, more than ever, to support Canada’s relaunch following the pandemic.
  • Universities provided an estimated $2.5 billion to students in scholarships and bursaries in 2020 to help students with the cost of enrolling at their institutions.
  • In addition to much needed government support directly to students and campus safety, universities also increased their commitment to students with an estimated $700 million in additional funds, with further support coming from alumni and the wider community.
  • Canada’s economy expanded at a 6.5 per cent pace in the first three months of 2021, bringing the country close to pre-pandemic output. Canada’s universities and this year’s graduating class are ready to be part of our recovery.
Universities Canada