Map of Quebec

Saucier, R. (2011) Portrait des inscriptions en formation à distance (secondaire, collègial et universitaire) au Québec depuis  1995-1996 Québec: CLIFAD

I have commented several times on the lack of data about online and distance education enrollments in Canada. Marc Villeneuve of the Université d’Ottawa has kindly directed me to this extremely valuable report from CLIFAD (Comité de liaison interordres en formation à distance, which represents all the main institutions involved in distance education in the province of Québec.)

CLIFAD has now been collecting data on distance education course enrollments in the province on an annual basis since 2004, but has information going back as far as 1995-1996. The reports include secondary schools, colleges/CEGEPs, and university distance education course enrollments. The above report for January 2011 provides data for each year from 1995-6 to 2009-10.

Secondary education

Growth between 2009 and 2010: 15%

Growth between 1995 and 2010: 377% (average: 27% per year)

Total course enrollments in 2010: 52,000


Growth between 2009 and 2010: 11%

Growth between 1995 and 2010: 64% (average: 4.5% per annum)

Total course enrollments in 2010: 25,500


Information for just three universities is given: Téluq; Laval; and Montréal

Growth between 2009 and 2010: 9%

Growth between 1995 and 2010: 112% (average: 8% per annum)

Total course enrollments in 2010: 72,000


First, CLIFAD is to be congratulated on taking the repsonsibility for collecting this extremely valuable data about distance education enrollments in the province.

However, there are just over 300,000 university students in Québec, and distance education enrollments average approximately 7,200 FTEs, so distance education enrollments are still a small percentage (just under 3%) of the total.

Second, these data do not tell us how many of the distance education courses are online, so we still do not have this information. If anyone can provide me with the source of similar data from other provinces, I will gladly examine and share it.

We need data of this kind for the various forms of e-learning from every province, collected on an annual basis in a comparative manner, otherwise we have no idea where Canada stands or is going with regard to online learning.


  1. Hi Tony,

    Has data ever been released by provinces other than Ontario and Quebec that details the number of FTE students studying online, completion rates, student retention, etc.? I am working to collect data on this topic.


    • Hi, Melissa

      Not that I know of, I’m afraid. As you know, unlike the U.S., there is no federal agency that collects this data. Ontario’s data is good (more or less a one-off census) but goes back to 2011, and is not easily accessible. Provinces do not require institutions to report data on online or distance education enrolments, as far as I know.

      Contact North estimated in 2015 that there were 1.3 million online university course enrolments in Canada. This would mean that somewhere between 5-15% of all FTEs would be in online courses, although most students in Canada are not taking whole programs online; many will be taking just one or two to complete their undergraduate program, for instance.

      If anyone has any better data at the provincial level, please let me know


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