Global Skills Opportunity — The government of Canada’s outbound student mobility pilot program

Who benefits when Canadian students gain global skills? We all do.

When young Canadians work and study abroad they bring back new experiences, skills, connections and knowledge which give their career a boost, and enrich Canada’s economic prosperity.

About Global Skills Opportunity

An integral component of the Government of Canada’s International Education Strategy Global Skills Opportunity will provide thousands of postsecondary students with invaluable international study and work experiences, strengthening their global skills and competencies. Global Skills Opportunity is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada, and jointly administered by Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan).

This program is designed to encourage low-income students, students with disabilities and Indigenous students to participate in study and work abroad programming. It is also an important step towards achieving Canada’s trade diversification goals and strengthening international networks.

REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS NOW OPEN

We are pleased to invite all Canadian universities to submit up to two project proposals for Global Skills Opportunity. Proposals may be for up to four years of study/work abroad activity from 2021-2025.

To offer students safe, enriching experiences, the 2021-2025 program will allow institutions to blend virtual and physical mobility experiences until travel restrictions are lifted.

Project proposals must be submitted in English or French via the Universities Canada Portal by June 30 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Users will be required to register an account and complete their profile before being able to access the application form.

It may take up to 48 hours to register an account. We encourage you start this process early in the application period.

Webinar: Universities Canada will hold a webinar on May 17, 2021 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EDT to respond to questions from institutions about the request for proposals. Please register for the webinar by May 13, 2021 using the registration link.

Frequently Asked Questions

Given the high volume of inquiries we have been receiving, GSO will no longer be posting all questions and answers to our website.  Please consult the FAQs below and, if your question is not answered, email us at studentmobility@univcan.ca

FAQs last updated June 11th, 2021.

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Eligibility and criterion New

Q: In section 3.3 on student participation, how do we account for students who fall into more than one category (Indigenous, low-income etc.)?   

A: For the purposes of this RFP, students should only be counted once in section 3.3. If their projects receive funding, universities will have the opportunity to account for students who fall into more than one category. 

Q: Can medical students or COOP students be eligible to participate in the program? 

A: It is at the discretion of each university to determine if an academic program is defined as an undergraduate program. Graduate level programs (Master’s, PhDs and post-doctoral studies) are ineligible for funding. Please note that all students must meet the eligibility as listed in section 2.2 of the guidelines and receive academic recognition for their participation in the program. 

Q: Can we redefine the length of what we consider short, medium and long term at our institution?  

A: We must maintain all program parameters established in the Guidelines in order to ensure consistency in the evaluation process.  We urge you to do your best to work within the parameters for defined durations as these are not flexible.  Please feel free to indicate in your narrative accompanying your budget how you have addressed the differences between the program’s definition of duration and your institutions definition of duration as this will be reviewed by the Selection Committee. 

Q: Do you have to be a member of Universities Canada to apply for funding?  

A: All applicants must be a Canadian university that has recognized provincial degree granting powers, or their affiliates. Applicants are not required to be a member of Universities Canada. 

Q: What kinds of activities are included under ‘study/work abroad’ 

A: The RFP will include all outbound mobility activities (study and/or work abroad). Please note that the program is only open to the undergraduate level. The outbound mobility experiences may include term-based exchanges, study abroad, summer exchanges/study abroad, internships, co-op placements, research placements, or faculty-led group study programs and may be of a minimum of one week in duration. These experiences must be organized and academically recognized by the Canadian post-secondary institution. 

Q: Can Institutions recognize completion of a mobility program in ways other than by credit? 

A: All study/work abroad experiences must be academically recognized. What academic recognition entails is at the discretion of the institution to determine; it is not required to be for credit. Academic recognition of outbound mobility experiences may include for-credit experiences, contribution towards an academic credit, or recognition in some manner on the students’ academic transcript. 

Q: How should we determine the funding amount of the scholarship for a short-term experience vs. a semester-long one?  

A: Individual student funding is to be determined by the Canadian post-secondary institution based on financial need, duration and destination. 

Q : Are the program targets meant to be at a national level or at an institutional one? Are individual projects required to meet the participation targets? 

A: The selection process will ensure that program targets of 50% of funding to low-income students, students with disabilities and Indigenous students, and 40% of funding to prioritize activity in non-traditional countries are achieved at the national level. Individual projects are not required to meet these targets. 

Q: My institution is a member of both Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada. Can I apply to both RFPs? 

A: Institutions that are members of both Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada are eligible to receive up to a maximum of $1.6 million in program funding, inclusive of any funding received from Universities Canada. We will connect with the CICan colleagues after the RFP closes to ensure that joint member institutions respect this criteria. 

Q: Can a student participate in more than one experience? If a student were to participate in virtual mobility and then a physical mobility experience, for the purposes of the application form and budget form, would they be counted as one student or two?  

A: Students can participate in one virtual and one physical mobility experience. However, the same student is unable to receive funds to participate in more than one physical mobility experience. Students are counted per activity; should a student participate in both a virtual and a physical mobility experience, they would count as two separate students (one under virtual and one under physical). 

Q: Are law schools considered to be at the undergraduate level within this program?  

A: It is at the discretion of each university to determine if an academic program is defined as an undergraduate program. Graduate level programs (Master’s, PhDs and post-doctoral studies) are ineligible for funding. Please note that all students must meet the eligibility as listed in section 2.2 of the guidelines and receive academic recognition for their participation in the program. 

Q: Can student funding to targeted groups (low income, students with disabilities, and Indigenous) be used to send students to traditional destinations? 

A: While activity is encouraged to take place in non-traditional destinations, students may study or work in any destination. 

Q: Do institutions need to have an agreement in place with the “partner(s)”? 

A: Supporting documentation demonstrating the strength of the partnership will be well received; however, the program recognizes that this may not be possible for all partners. Universities are required to have a minimum of one international partnership. 

Q: If a university wants to create a program that is inclusive of international students, can the funding be applied to the wraparound services and project administration (but just not the direct financial supports)? 

A: International students are ineligible for funding under this program. Funds are to support undergraduate students that are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, registered at a provincially recognized, degree-granting Canadian university. 

Application process and important dates

Q: If an institution is forwarding two projects, should it prepare a separate submission for each project? 

A: Each project must be submitted individually. 

Q: When is the deadline to submit?  

A: All applications are to be submitted to Universities Canada via our online Portal by June 30, 2021 at 3:00 pm EST. 

Q: Given current travel restrictions, students may not be able to study/work abroad until winter 2022 at the earliest. We are concerned on the timing of the request for proposal and want to make sure our students do not miss out on this opportunity.  

A: The call for proposals this spring is for up to four years of activity (ending March 31, 2025) with the acknowledgement that the program will start with virtual mobility programming until it is safe for students to resume international travel. It is at the discretion of each institution to determine when this transition will happen, while respecting the Government of Canada’s travel advisories. It is also up to the Canadian university to determine when virtual or physical mobility will start, whether that is the fall of 2021, the winter of 2022, or a later date. 

Q: Do students need to have completed their experience abroad by March 2025 or is it required for them to start their program by that date? 

A: All participants must have completed their study/work abroad experience before March 31, 2025 to satisfy our contractual requirements with the funder. 

Q: Will you have calls for this funding every year? 

A: The current call is for the full program (2021-2025). It is at the discretion of the Canadian university to determine when its project activity is to start. Remaining funds will be determined based on the quantity and quality of proposals received and selected via this call. There will be at least one further call for proposals during the program period for innovation projects. It is possible there will be another RFP directed towards study/work abroad activities. The timing and criteria will depend on the quantity and the quality of funds received with this call for proposals. 

Q: Could this funding be possibly extended beyond 2025? 

A: Throughout the pilot period, we aim to capture and demonstrates program results early on to build support for a more permanent program. 

Q: How do I know Universities Canada has received my application?  

A: The receipt of submitted applications will be acknowledged by Universities Canada in the form of an email from studentmobility@univcan.ca. Please contact us if you are encountering any technical issues and/or if you do not receive an acknowledgement email. 

Q: Are faculty members/support staff supposed to submit their own applications OR are all applications supposed to be submitted by one single office?  

A: It will be at the discretion of the Canadian university on their approach to manage their submission(s) (i.e. if faculty / individual staff submit or if it comes from one single office). 

Q: Can single applications focus on both objectives? Or would stronger applications focus either on the three target groups OR diversity of destination? 

A: It is at the discretion of the institution to the objectives and scope of their project; it is possible for an institution to focus on all of the specific objectives, or only one of them. Projects focusing on target group students would be viewed more favourably that projects involving other eligible student groups. Please see section 1.3 of the guidelines for more details. 

Q: Can we identify partners after submission?  

A: Universities are required to have a minimum of one international partnership identified in the application form. It is possible for universities to use this opportunity to build on existing or develop new partnerships in Canada and/or abroad. New partners may be added in real-time throughout the life of the pilot program. 

Q: What documentation is required to demonstrate the strength of partnerships? 

A: Supporting documentation may include letters confirming the partnership from partners, or other documentation that demonstrates the strength of the partnership. We recognize this may not be possible for all partners. New partners may be added in real-time throughout the life of the pilot program. 

Funding – how much, what’s covered etc.

Q: Could the funds be allocated to campuses outside Canada (e.g., Harlow Campus U.K.)? 

A: It is at the discretion of the institution to determine how to implement the funds in accordance with the costing parameters identified in section 2.3 of the guidelines. 

Q: Can eligible administrative costs or those allocated for wraparound services be used to improve accessibility on campuses? 

A: It is at the discretion of the institution to determine how to design their projects. Submissions that are aligned with the objectives and targets outlined in section 1.1 of the guidelines will be viewed favourably by the selection committee. 

Q: Can a fraction of the funds be budgeted towards rewarding our partner’s contribution to the project? i.e. a small allowance to go to the foreign instructor teaching a portion of classes?  

A: Allowance for foreign instructors may be considered an admissible cost if it is a direct cost related to the implementation of the project. It is at the discretion of each institution to determine how best to implement the funds within the funding parameters and eligible costs outlined in the guidelines. 

Q: How many projects is Universities Canada looking to fund?  

A: Based on the quality and quantity of the applications, we anticipate funding between 50-70 mobility projects at Canadian universities. Colleges and Institutes Canada is managing its own call for proposals for projects at Canadian colleges. 

Q: Under virtual mobility, can “operational costs” go towards staffing to facilitate/support the faculty? 
A: Staff salaries may be considered an operational cost under virtual mobility if it is a direct cost related to the implementation of virtual mobility programming. It is at the discretion of each institution to determine how best to implement the funds within the virtual mobility funding parameters and eligible costs outlined in the guidelines. 

Q: What type of audit could the program funding be subject to (including financial aide directed to students and the administrative costs of the project?) What documentation or proof could be required?  

A: Universities Canada is responsible for overseeing agreements with institutions under this call.  Universities Canada and the Government of Canada (via Universities Canada) have the right to conduct an audit of any project funded under this call.  Universities will be required to keep receipts for some expenses such as travel and living related expenses (Visas, proof of travel, living allowances, etc.) and records of in-kind contributions. Further details on records and receipts for eligible expenses will be clarified in the contribution agreements developed for successful projects in fall 2021. 

Q: What are eligible costs under project administration?  

A: Project administration costs may include but are not limited to direct costs related to student recruitment, materials and supplies, printing and communication costs, and other administrative costs related to the implementation of the program. 

Q: Is funding available for faculty or staff who accompany students on short-term experiences? 

A: Travel for staff, faculty or elders is included as an eligible expense under wraparound services and supports. 

Q: If students wish to travel with dependents, can the “up to $10,000” cover the cost of the dependents? 

A: Dependent care is included as an eligible cost for physical mobility. Please see section 2.3 of the guidelines for more details on the costing parameters. 

Q: What are the eligible expenses for university project administration and wraparound support services in terms of the GSO contribution? 

A: Canadian universities may receive up to 10% of the total requested GSO contribution for project administration costs. Eligible expenses include – but are not limited to – direct costs related to student recruitment, materials and supplies, printing and communication costs, and other administrative costs (including staff salaries) related to the implementation of the program. Canadian universities may receive up to 10% of the total requested GSO contribution for wraparound supports and services. Staffing costs may be eligible under this category if they support the direct implementation of wraparound supports and services. 

Q: Will secondary proposals be reviewed depending on revenue being available after primary proposals have been funded? 

A: All proposals will be reviewed, however primary proposals will be reviewed first. Selection is based on meeting the requirements outlined in section 2.0 of the RFP and the quality of the proposal. The selection process will give particular consideration to geographic balance and size of institutions to ensure equal opportunities across all Canadian universities. The selection process will ensure that program targets are achieved at the national level. 

Q: Can the amount given to the student be combined with other bursaries? 

A: It is possible to leverage additional sources of funding to support student needs. Applications that contribute to project costs will be well received. Contributions may include in-kind contributions such as administrative costs, cash contributions, tuition waivers or discounts, other discounts or waivers to academic, living or travel costs, carbon offsets and financial contributions from other sources including Canadian or international partners, private companies, other funding agencies, or students. 

Q: Does direct supports for students include expenditures that directly benefit students, or is it simply paying the students’ way? For example, spending money to ensure that a site is accessible for a student with mobility issues. 

A: Direct financial supports are costs to support students’ physical mobility and virtual mobility experiences. Individual student funding is to be determined on a needs-basis by the Canadian post-secondary institution. For physical mobility, funding may cover students’ tuition, living expenses, dependent care, health insurance, immunizations, transportation, and accommodation during their outbound mobility experience. For virtual mobility, funding may cover direct costs related to the implementation of virtual mobility programming including participation costs for students, operational costs, software expenses, systems maintenance, connection fees, equipment and hardware requirements, and inclusion and accessibility tools (i.e. closed captioning, translation, etc.). Other costs may be eligible on an as need basis with written approval from Universities Canada. 

Q: Could you partially fund a proposal? For example, if an institution requests $500 000 but this is not accepted, would it be possible some of the amount would be funded (i.e. $200 000)? 

A: Proposals may be accepted, rejected, or provided conditional approval. It may also be possible that only certain elements of a proposal are approved for funding. 

Q: Do students receive the funding post-mobility participation or pre-departure? 

A: It is up to the institution to determine how to disburse funds to students. Universities Canada recommends holding back a portion of funds to incentivize students to complete their reporting requirements as part of the program. 

Q: Is the program target of 50% direct funding to target student groups an amortized percentage or in annual reports, are we meant to have directed 50% of funds to students? 

A: The selection process will ensure that program targets are achieved at the national level. Individual projects are not required to meet these targets. 

Consortiums

Q: Can I apply for funding as an individual institution and as a consortium? 

A: Canadian universities are welcome to submit a maximum of two applications as an individual institution and/or as part of a consortium. Universities can only be the lead institution for two applications. A consortia application must include a minimum of two Canadian post-secondary institutions.  

Q: Is it $800k for the consortium or for each institution in the consortium? 

A: Consortia applications may seek funding of up to $800,000 CAD per project proposal (i.e. per consortium) for up to four years of activity. It is at the discretion of the Canadian university to determine how to manage the funds within the consortium. 

Terminology/Definitions New

Physical mobility 

Physical mobility refers to international experiences where the student physically travels to another country for the purpose of study or work. Please note that in-Canada physical mobility is ineligible for funding. 

Partnership

Partnerships could include but are not limited to post-secondary institutions, non-governmental organizations, policy institutes and agencies, national and local governments, and private sector companies. Universities are required to have a minimum of one international partnership identified in their application. 

Virtual mobility 

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. 

Projects may include virtual and physical mobility, or only focus on physical mobility programming. Institutions are expected to implement virtual programming until Government of Canada travel advisories are lifted and it is safe for students to travel overseas. It is possible for institutions to submit a physical mobility only project with activity starting when international travel returns. All projects must include physical mobility programming. Virtual mobility only projects are ineligible. 

Logic model   

The logic model is a program evaluation tool to map and measure the program results. The logic model for the program is in Appendix A of the guidelines. All activities must align with the program objectives and outcomes within the logic model. 

Low-income 

For the purposes of this program, low-income students are defined as students who report to be in receipt of Canada Student Grants, or similar non-repayable student financial assistance offered by provinces and territories, or, in the absence of receiving non-repayable student financial assistance, can provide information to demonstrate that they require financial support to study or work abroad. 

Undergraduate student

“Undergraduate student” is limited to a degree seeking student; technical/applied/diploma students are ineligible.

Innovation projects

Due to COVID-19, the first phase of the program focused on innovation to help institutions test new tools and approaches, adapt mobility programming to COVID-19, and build the foundation for the launch of the full program.

Please find a list of funded Outbound Mobility Innovation Projects from 2021-2022.

For more information

Please contact studentmobility@univcan.ca for all questions about the program.

Additional resources

Canada’s 2019-2024 International Education Strategy

Advisory group

Universities Canada and CICan are working closely with multiple stakeholders to design and implement Global Skills Opportunity. We have convened an advisory group of leaders and experts in education, civil society and business to provide high-level strategic advice and guidance on the design and implementation of the program. In addition to informing strategic and policy issues, committee members also serve as ambassadors to build awareness and support for the program across their networks.

Advisory group members

The Right Honourable David Johnston, chair, Rideau Hall Foundation (chair) 

John Baker, president & CEO, D2L

Perrin Beatty, president and CEO, Chamber of Commerce

Larissa Bezo, president and CEO, Canadian Bureau for International Education

Margaret Biggs, Matthews Fellow in Global Public Policy, Queen’s University

Tabatha Bull, President and CEO, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business

Seren Friskie, student representative, Thompson Rivers University and Douglas College; research assistant, Canadian Mental Health Association

Zabeen Hirji, executive advisor, Future of Work, Deloitte

Sue Paish, CEO, Digital Technology Supercluster

Christian Paradis, senior vice president, strategic development, security service, GardaWorld

Ian Smith, CEO, Clearwater Seafoods 

Elizabeth Kwann, Senior Researcher, Canadian Labour Congress

This project is funded by the Government of Canada’s Outbound Student Mobility Pilot Program.

Logo du Gouvernement du Canada avec la feuille d'érable.Building on Success: International Education Strategy (2019 – 2024)

 

Universities Canada