Indigenous student education

Our position

Indigenous peoples face significant barriers to postsecondary education. As a result, far fewer First Nations, Métis and Inuit in Canada have a university degree than non-Indigenous Canadians. Education is vital to the reconciliation process and universities are committed to helping Indigenous students achieve their potential through higher education. Universities help advance reconciliation by revitalizing Indigenous languages, ensuring Indigenous representation in governance and leadership structures, and bringing Indigenous knowledge and culture to campus. Still much more remains to be done. Universities Canada is working with partners in government to encourage more support for Indigenous students to access and succeed at higher education.

Universities Canada’s Advisory group on Indigenous higher education


By the numbers

  • 80%
    prioritize reconciliation in strategic planning

    80% of universities have or are developing a strategic plan for advancing reconciliation and to ensure the academic success of Indigenous students.

    Source: Universities Canada survey, 2019.
  • 93%
    offer financial aid

    More than 90% of universities offer financial aid dedicated specifically to Indigenous students.

    Source: Universities Canada survey, 2019.
  • 85%
    partner with Indigenous communities

    More than 80% of universities have a partnership with Indigenous communities and organizations to foster dialogue and reconciliation.

    Source: Universities Canada survey, 2019.
  • 76%
    offer Indigenous-focused programs

    Over three-quarters of universities offer programs that are specifically designed for Indigenous students or have an Indigenous focus.

    Source: Universities Canada survey, 2019.
  • 83%
    engage with Elders on campus

    More than 80% of universities work with Elders to provide cultural supports like visits and mentoring to Indigenous students.

    Source: Universities Canada survey, 2019.
  • 69%
    of universities offer transition programs

    These include outreach programs in Indigenous communities, academic support and mentorship for Indigenous students starting as early as the elementary school level.

    Universities Canada survey of members on Indigenous education, 2015.

Reconciliation may be our greatest social challenge but also our greatest opportunity. We must approach the task with ambition, pragmatism and humility.

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