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Global University Systems Canada: The future of education

Cyndi McLeod, an award-winning executive with more than 30 years of leadership experience in post-secondary education in Canada, talks about Global University Systems (GUS) success.


BCBusiness Global University Systems Canada

Credit: Cyndi McLeod, CEO, Global University Systems Canada

Cyndi McLeod, an award-winning executive with more than 30 years of leadership experience in post-secondary education in Canada, talks about Global University Systems (GUS) success.

Cyndi McLeod has held senior leadership roles at public and private institutions in the Canadian post-secondary education system, including Selkirk College, Thompson Rivers University and Royal Roads University.

In 2017, she joined Global University Systems (GUS)—an international network of higher-education institutions, brought together by a shared passion for accessible, industry-relevant qualifications—as CEO for GUS Canada, taking over responsibility for the group’s Canadian expansion and operations.

Since then, GUS Canada has grown to six institutions across Canada—University Canada West (UCW), Canadian College of Technology and Business (CCTB), Toronto School of Management (TSoM), The Language Gallery, Trebas Institute and its most recent addition, University of Niagara Falls Canada (UNF), a new institution set to welcome students in 2024.

Under her leadership and working with the Ontario government framework, GUS Canada also established two highly successful public-private partnerships with Niagara College and Fleming College.

Enrolment at GUS Canada institutions has grown to more than 26,000 students, and Cyndi and her team are forging a new pathway to higher learning in this country.

Credit: Cyndi McLeod, CEO, Global University Systems Canada

You have worked in higher education for over 30 years. What changes have you seen during that time?

Driven by globalization and demographic shifts, significant changes in higher education reflect rapid technological advances, a growing emphasis on interdisciplinary learning and practical experience, and diverse perspectives.

The widespread use of technology in the classroom has transformed the way students learn and has opened new opportunities for students around the world.

What do you see for the future of higher education in Canada?

I see an increased focus on personalized and experiential education. There will be a growing emphasis on individualized learning experiences and hands-on training to prepare students for the workforce.

Internationalization and the recruitment of international students will continue as there is a need for more skilled workers and educated individuals to help strengthen Canada’s labour force.

Education will be an economic driver in smaller communities and will continue to create sources of talent that will help Canada’s economy grow. This will mean an increase in short courses and opportunities to upskill to meet industry demands.

We have a lot of challenges to face as a sector, particularly around the housing situation in Canada and students’ ever-changing support needs.

I see more room for public-private partnerships in post-secondary education between institutions and between institutions and business, industry and associations. We need to work together to develop a more robust and collaborative system to benefit everyone.

How is GUS Canada leading the way?

We are looking for the best in innovative online programs and cutting-edge technology.

GUS recently acquired FutureLearn, a digital education platform that allows students access to on-demand, career-focused online learning from world-class higher education institutions. We will work with them to expand our capabilities in online education.

We established the GUS Canada Technology Transformation and Innovation Council, which is made up of leaders from GUS Canada institutions and tech and creative industry executives, to explore the role of education in alleviating the labour and skills shortage, the key roles and skills needed to support the digital economy now and into the future, and how this can enhance the curriculum at our institutions.

GUS Canada is actively exploring how our institutions can integrate AI into programming and operations, and we are developing two innovation hubs across Canada.

Our brand new institution, UNF, is focused on developing a biomedical program and programs focused on the digital economy. We’ve partnered with the city there, and we will be a catalyst helping to drive economic development in Niagara Falls. Over a five- to eight-year period, we anticipate UNF will generate upwards of 575 new jobs in the region.

We also recently announced the Industry Professionals Grant at UCW, which is available to eligible working professionals looking for a flexible and financially viable option to upskill while maintaining a busy schedule. The grant offers eligible applicants up to $8,500 towards the tuition cost of UCW’s Master of Business Administration program, either on-campus or online.

GUS Canada has grown a lot in the six years you have been at the helm. What’s next?

Technology, aggregators and the continued demand for higher education are changing the face of what we do every day.

The sector needs to continue to grow, open new markets and diversify—especially into the digital space. GUS Canada will continue to focus on creating the best possible experience for our students both on-campus and online. We will continue to diversify and reinvest in infrastructure, new programs and improved student services.

Students and their families invest a lot of money in post-secondary education, so quality education and support services to ensure students are well-educated and prepared to get excellent jobs soon after graduation are important.

Our institutions value the ongoing contributions of the Indigenous peoples and communities in Canada, and we are committed to fostering education around truth and reconciliation.

We want to continue to collaborate with educational institutions, business and industry across Canada and around the world, and partner with highly recognized brands to attract the best talent to our institutions.

Learn more about GUS Canada at

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Created by BCBusiness in partnership with Global University Systems Canada