Making the Case for Change to Support Learners

student mobility equation image

Creating change that matters for learners and Canadian post-secondary institutions

A national student data exchange network, a one-stop environment to support official post-secondary academic document exchange, supports mobile learners and advances social mobility, internationalization, lifelong learning, and labour mobility and workforce preparedness. 

pdfProject's Commitment to Social Mobility

Social mobility

Creating service improvements that enhance student access into, between, and beyond Canadian post-secondary studies is a key aspiration of the national data exchange project. Social mobility involves supporting learners and their families moving within or between social strata in a society.[1] A study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) found that a “…lack of social mobility can hurt the foundations of economic growth” and that “social mobility directly influences the feeling that one’s voice counts at the country level”.[2]

Removing barriers to and enhancing the seamless sharing of secure student academic credentials into, between, and beyond Canadian post-secondary institutions directly contributes to facilitating greater social mobility, diversity, social equity, and future economic opportunities.

Learner mobility

Learner mobility and social mobility are interrelated. A growing number of learners choose to transfer between post-secondary institutions within provinces/territories, across Canada, or internationally in pursuit of their educational, social and professional goals. Learner mobility is also evident in the growing number of international students coming to study at Canadian post-secondary institutions. Canada’s colleges, institutes and universities are increasingly collaborating to offer students a significant range of pathways to support their education and career goals.[3] One in 10 university students cross a provincial/territory border to complete their studies.[4]

Supporting all these learners with more seamless electronic credential exchange represents an important next step to enhance supports and remove barriers to access.

The Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) focuses on priorities that enhance student mobility, supports best practices related to the assessment and recognition of qualifications, and ensures higher education meets Canada’s obligations under the Lisbon Recognition Convention through the support of the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials (CICIC).[5] The federal government ratified this Convention in 2018, ensuring a commitment to transparency and quality assured practices as mechanisms to enhance mobility.[6] Increasing student mobility is also a priority for both Universities Canada and Colleges and Institutes Canada.[7] Both groups have formally endorsed the Canadian national data exchange project, which seeks to create seamless connectivity between post-secondary institutions and trusted international institutions and organizations to enable quality assured credential assessment and the electronic exchange of official academic documents to support learners.

CMEC priorities map 3

Creating a national student data exchange network, a one-stop source for Canadian post-secondary academic document exchange, completely aligns and serves the priorities of the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada, Universities Canada, and Colleges and Institutes Canada.

Canadian post-secondary institutions and our students need more capacity at the national level to advance learner mobility.

International mobility

Canadian students studying abroad need to be encouraged and supported as they grow the necessary skills and competencies to navigate the challenges in the changing workforce and the shifting global economy.[8] Establishing integrated and trusted connections with international partners for credential exchange is essential to support scalable credit recognition processes. Efficiently accessing transcripts and improving transfer credit assessment processes will help remove barriers to participation.

The 47% increase in international students studying in Canada between 2015 and 2018 is projected to continue growing.[9] Transformational credential exchange support frameworks are necessary for efficient admissions and transfer credit assessment practices. Trusted international credential repositories exist in India and China, which are the two largest source countries for international post-secondary students in Canada. Taken together, they represent over 50% of the total population studying in our schools.[10] Research conducted for ARUCC indicates the presence of similar trusted credential repositories and verification bodies in other parts of the world.

Canadian post-secondary institutions need to connect to these providers around the world to support quality assured assessment practices and to enhance speed of service for students.

Global Map final as of Oct 15 2018 ARUCC GDN Project

Creating connections with trusted providers in other countries will enhance and expedite scalable admissions and transfer assessment for international students and support expansion of study abroad. 

Labour mobility and workforce preparedness

Supporting transition to work by creating the capacity for learners to access and curate their own official academic documents removes barriers to access regulatory professions and the workplace. The OECD stresses that “[a] rapidly changing world of work affected by globalization, digital transformation and demographic changes makes lifelong learning even more essential….”[11] Advancing digitization and data portability enables labour mobility and lifelong learning and supports students as they move forward with their careers.

Transfer students tend to be older than 24[12] as they work to reconsider their life paths and learning trajectories. As the labour market evolves, the need for retraining becomes imperative to maintain a viable work force. 

Removing credential exchange barriers and enhancing scalable service represent important imperatives for improving labour mobility and access, particularly for older and Indigenous students who need to reach beyond their regions for educational opportunities.

The National Data Exchange Project will close Gaps

ARUCC research indicates significant gaps exist in electronic data exchange capacity across the country. The community says we must do more to support mobile learners, enhance institutional efficiencies, and address document fraud.

  • Most electronic exchange of academic documents to support access to Canadian post-secondary institutions is limited to specific provinces. Where it does exist, it focuses on the front end of the application process and intra-provincial transcript exchange to support admissions.
  • Only a select few application centres and institutions engage to a limited extent in inter-provincial electronic exchange. An even smaller subset maintains established connections with trusted international organizations.
  • Many institutions rely on manual effort to support students moving between institutions and beyond.
  • Significant gaps exist to support internationally educated students coming to study in Canada. For example, there are limited connections to trusted credential repositories outside of Canada to support efficient and timely exchange of students’ academic documents. As a result, greater burdens and inefficient processes are placed on both students and Canadian higher education institutions.
  • Academic document and identity fraud are growing.[13] The risks and implications include erosion of the Canadian high education brand, lost enrolments and revenue, and degradation of student service. 
  • Growing service volumes across all fronts are challenging Canadian post-secondary institutions and negatively impacting students, resulting in delays, inefficiencies, and frustrations. 
    • 47% increase in international study permits from 2015 to 2018 (Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada) 
    • 11% increase in graduating students from 2012 to 2016 (Statistics Canada)
    • Increasing demands for official student status confirmations – sample: 37% increase in RESP related requests since the program’s inception (Employment and Social Development Canada)

The higher education community needs to work together with supporting organizations and governments to close these gaps to support the mobile learners of today and tomorrow.

An Overview of the Gaps

Gaps as of July 9 2018

It is in the interest of students, institutions, government, and supporting organizations to enhance trusted connections for the exchange of official academic documents. Benefits include support for learner mobility, greater efficiencies for students, institutions, and supporting organizations, and potential cost savings.

Working in partnership to support the mobile learners of today and tomorrow.


[1] Social Mobility, Wikipedia,
[2] OECD (2018), p 23, A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility, OECD Publishing, Paris. 
[3] Universities Canada (January 2016), Universities and colleges: teaming up for student success. Retrieved from 
[4] Universities Canada (n.d.), Facts and Stats. Retrieved from 
[5] Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. 2017-21. CMEC Strategic Plan 2017-21. Retrieved from 
[6] Lisbon Recognition Convention. 1999-2019. The Lisbon Recognition Convention. Retrieved from 
[7] Universities Canada. (n.d.). Study Abroad. Retrieved from and Colleges and Institutes Canada. (n.d.). Student Mobility. Retrieved from 
[8] Report of the Study Group on Global Education (2017), Global Education for Canadians – Equipping Young Canadians to Succeed at Home & Abroad, 
[9] Source for study permit data: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Retrieved from 
[10] Retrieved on February 18, 2019 from 
[11] OECD (2018), p 55, A Broken Social Elevator? How to Promote Social Mobility, OECD Publishing, Paris. 
[12] Heath, N. (2012). Student Mobility in Canada. Pan-Canadian Consortium on Admissions and Transfer. Retrieved from 
[13] WENR:; Canadian Bankers Association:


Governance for the ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Project

Project Leadership

The Project is being led by ARUCC through the ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Steering Committee. ARUCC is a separately incorporated entity representing colleges, institutes, and universities from across Canada.

Representatives from ARUCCPCCATCUCCIO, and CanPESC sit on the Project Steering Committee in addition to a representative from a region within Canada that currently lacks data exchange capacity. 

The Committee's authority is outlined in the formal Steering Committee Terms of Reference which were reviewed and approved by ARUCC. The Committee is led by a chair, Charmaine Hack (former president of ARUCC - 2016 to 2018; current registrar at Ryerson University) and a vice-chair, Dr. Rob Fleming (board member of PCCAT; current executive director of the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer).

The ARUCC members at the June 2018 biennial meeting formally voted on the Project's road map and focus. At that time, the members indicated ARUCC should continue to do the following:

  • Explore and develop a Canadian data exchange network.
  • Embed core benefits into the network.
    • Improve student service
    • Improve student mobility through efficient data sharing
    • Encourage national dialogue around student mobility and success
    • Align with the national and international goals of other Canadian postsecondary institutions and pathway organizations
  • With ARUCC leading, create a national governance model for the Project; hence, the ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee meets twice per month and is tasked with leading all aspects of the Project including overseeing a Request for Proposal for a national solution, and establishing a supporting implementation plan and a long-term governance framework for the national data exchange network.

Project Support

Joanne Duklas of Duklas Cornerstone Consulting serves as the Executive Consulting Lead for the Project. She is a former registrar and president of ARUCC (2012). Joanne and her team provide strategic and operational support for the Project.

McPherson Management is providing financial and additional operational support to the Project.  

The Steering Committee establishes other subcommittees as appropriate to the Project needs and phasing. When additional committees and working groups are created, they will be featured on this page.

Legal, privacy, and technical expertise will be hired as the Project evolves.

** NEW Project SubCommittee**

ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Technical Advisory Committee ('TAC')

The ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Steering Committee has established a new Technical Advisory Committee for the national student data exchange platform. This group will provide technical advice to support the technical aspects of the business case and RFP for the national data exchange solution. Its activities are governed by formal pdfTerms of Reference. Meetings of this group will happen every three to four weeks throughout the winter and spring of 2019. The chair and vice-chair of the Committee are Brian Stewart, deputy CIO, University of Alberta, and Alex Ferworn, Professor, Ryerson University. 

The Committee includes pdfrepresentatives from higher education organizations and institutions who fulfill the following criteria: 

  • Represent an institution/organization that has formally endorsed the national Project. 
  • Do not represent an institution/organization that is intending to participate in the RFP process for the national data exchange solution. 
  • Have expertise in data exchange, data security, and/or identity management related to the exchange of student data. 
  • Are supported by their leadership to participate in the Project.

    Questions regarding the Technical Advisory Committee?

    Contact Brian Stewart (deputy CIO, University of Alberta, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), chair of the Technical Advisory Committee, or Joanne Duklas, executive project consulting lead,(This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

    Consultations and Updates

    Keeping the Canadian Higher Education Community Informed and Engaged

    ARUCC has consulted with hundreds of Canadian and international organizations including application centres, data exchange providers, councils on admissions/articulation and transfer, government, post-secondary institutions, allied organizations, regulatory bodies, and others to ensure a deeper understanding of the gaps and opportunities, and to capture advice and support for the project.

    Connecting with the Canadian higher education community remains critical as the Project leadership seeks to achieve an evidence informed understanding of the gaps, promising practices, and potential opportunities that make sense for Canada and to develop a national network for student data exchange.

    Latest Community Updates   

    English Hot off the press icon

    pdfMay 2019 Message from the Project Steering chair regarding a recently launch blockchain consortium that includes a Canadian university

    pdfApril 2019 Project Update

    pdfPlenary Presentation delivered at the international Groningen Declaration Network Meeting in Puebla, Mexico

    pdfWorkshop Session Presentation delivered at the international Groningen Declaration Network Meeting in Puebla, Mexico

    GDN 2019 Session presenters 2019 (L-R): Charmaine Hack, Romesh Vadivel, Julie Green, Rob Fleming

    GDN 2019 Session Presenters: Charmaine Hack, Romesh Vadivel, Julie Green, Dr. Rob Fleming

    Historical Updates

    pdfOctober 2018 Project Update

    pdfOctober 2018 Project Funding Request to ARUCC Members and Friends

    pdfOctober 2018 Project Presentation to Canada's Assistant Deputy Ministers

    Canada's Strengths and Gaps and a Sampling of Trusted Data Providers Identified

    Members added to ARUCC Steering Committee and Terms of Reference Updated

    pdfARUCC and PCCAT June 2018 Conference Overview Presentation - Part One

    pdfARUCC and PCCAT June 2018 Conference Overview Presentation - Part Two

    pdfCanHEIT June 2018 Conference Presentation

    pdfARUCC Groningen Project Briefing Note May 29, 2018
    pdfARUCC Groningen Project Briefing Note Winter 2018
    pdfBackground Note to Briefing Note Winter 2018 - Case for Change
    pdfInformation on Spring 2018 Sessions

    pdfResearch Information Request 

    pdfARUCC Project Short Presentation January 24 2018

    pdfFall 2017 Project Briefing Update

    pdfConsultation Summary (update March 2018)

    Fall 2017 PESC Data Summit (Toronto)

    pdfJune 2017 Bulletin  

    ARUCC's History with Groningen


    ARUCC is poised to move this initiative forward into the next phase.

    Groningen Team 2018

    The ARUCC Groningen Team in action at the 2018 Groningen Declaration Network Annual Meeting
    Left to Right: Romesh Vadivel, Joanne Duklas, Charmaine Hack, Dr. Rob Fleming

    Groningen Conference 2017 Charmaine Hack Andrew Arida and Romesh Vadivel

    The ARUCC Groningen Team in action at the 2017 Groningen Declaration Network Annual Meeting
    Left to Right: Andrew Arida, Charmaine Hack, Romesh Vadivel


    ONCAT & BCCAT Data Exchange Groningen Projects

    logo arucc oncat bccat


    ARUCC led two data exchange research projects which complement the national ARUCC Groningen & Student Mobility Project.

    1. Advancing Student Transfer through Data Mobility - an Ontario focus: this project received funding from ONCAT and was supported by the Ontario Colleges' Committee of Registrars, Admissions, and Liaison Officers (CRALO) and the Ontario University Registrars' Association (OURA).
    2. Advancing Student Transfer through Data Mobility - a British Columbia focus: the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT) provided the funding for this project. It was conducted in partnership with the University of Victoria.

    Current Status:

    The final research reports are under development with a plan to publish the reports on the ONCAT and ARUCC sites. In addition, the findings are being used to support creation of the RFP for the national network.

    Research Goals

    The research goals for both projects included the following:

    (i) identifying the current state and readiness for exchanging student data; and

    (ii) capturing expert advice on required policies and infrastructure changes needed at the local and system levels to facilitate change.

    Research Questions

    The research projects explored the following questions:

    1. What is the current state of student information system capacity at post-secondary institutions with respect to student data exchange and sharing of student data at the individual record level? What gaps exist?
    2. What expert advice might post-secondary registrarial leadership and allied organizations, including BCCAT, EducationPlannerBC, ONCAT, OUAC, OCAS and others, have for advancing institutional capacities and change readiness for data exchange to advance transfer?
    3. What best-in-class examples exist to inform change readiness and capacities in this area?
    4. How might students and the post-secondary institutions benefit from participation in a national data exchange network? What opportunities will this create for advancing seamless transfer between post-secondary institutions and allied organizations?
    5. What is required institutionally and provincially to advance individual student data exchange at the national level?

    Research Approach

    The research approach for both the ONCAT and BCCAT projects included literature reviews and a national survey. Both projects included regional consultation meetings and interviews with institutional associations and allied organizations within each provincial jurisdiction. In total, more than 250 people were interviewed for these projects. More information on each project is provided below. (Note: the documents referenced below represent historical information regarding the projects.)

    BCCAT project - pdfmore information... (historical document)

    ONCAT project - pdfmore information... (historical document)

    National Survey - The national survey closed in December 2018.

    The national survey provided the ARUCC, BCCAT, and ONCAT projects a current understanding of practices and perspectives regarding institutional and organizational capacity for data exchange. Participation in the survey was voluntary. 

    The leadership for the three projects agreed to use one survey to ensure the findings served all studies equally. This approach was deemed appropriate given that it would maximize input and minimize effort on the part of institutions and allied organizations. 

    pdfSurvey Background Information (historial document)

    Broader Context

    ARUCC's national project conducted in partnership with PCCAT, CUCCIO, and CanPESC, is focused on creating an innovative, trusted, national student data exchange network to facilitate transfer and mobility. It directly aligns with the need to remove systemic barriers that impede seamless transfer across Canada and internationally. Endorsements for this project have arrived from post-secondary institutions and provincial and national organizations from across Canada. These two provincial projects extended the consultation and research and heightened an understanding of the provincial contexts in two very complex and large regions. The opportunity to engage in province-specific analyses resulted from the funding support provided by BCCAT and ONCAT.

    The three projects serve broader goals given the focus on digitization and data exchange including creating a 'Made for Canada' data exchange ecosystem that seeks to resolve document fraud, enhance credential recognition practices, and facilitate the transition of students into institutions and future employment. These initiatives also advance other goals such as those embedded in the study by the University of Ottawa Centre for International Policy Studies and the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto. Internationally, this Proposal aligns with the Lisbon Recognition Convention and the Groningen Declaration Network Organization, each of which seek to improve student transfer through data exchange and enhanced recognition of prior post-secondary studies.


    Project Leadership

    Project funders: ONCAT (for the Ontario project), BCCAT (for the BC project)

    ONCAT Partners: CRALO and OURA

    BCCAT Partners: University of Victoria

    Project Lead: Charmaine Hack, Registrar, Ryerson University; Past-President, ARUCC (2016-2018); Chair, ARUCC Groningen and Student Mobility Steering Committee

    Primary Investigatory: Joanne Duklas, Duklas Cornerstone Consulting


    Questions regarding the survey or any of the projects should be directed to Charmaine Hack (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and Joanne Duklas (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).


    The Groningen Initiative

    The Groningen Declaration Network is an international organization that “…seeks common ground in best serving the academic and professional mobility needs of citizens worldwide by bringing together key stakeholders in the Digital Student Data Ecosystem.”

    The overarching goal of the Groningen Declaration Network is to create a framework to improve the international mobility of people, promoting world-wide education and economic development through the secure electronic exchange of postsecondary student information. ARUCC became a signatory to the Groningen Declaration principles in 2015. 

    Interested in becoming a signature to the Groningen Declaration?

    We have prepared a one-page briefing document which explains the Groningen Declaration Network. You can use this material when seeking to have your organization become a signatory to the Declaration (pdfavailable online). 

    Posted with permission from Herman de Leeuw, Groningen Network Foundation