Banner - Halifax Index - aGREATERhalifax




Source: Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada,
University of Regina




Source: Nova Scotia Community College


At its heart, Halifax is a smart city, a hotbed of learning and discovery. However, taking advantage of knowledge assets is something Halifax has never fully mastered.  

Halifax’s concentration on knowledge-heavy service industries continues. Over 87% of its jobs are in service industries, meaning the high level of education of its workforce is critical to its economic success.

As a result, its universities are important drivers of the economy – both for their direct economic impact as well as generators of talent. They attract smart people and are a source of high-skilled jobs and research. In communities with a culture of innovation and a strong university presence, like San Diego and San Jose, CA, universities can also be engines of community and business transformation. 


Halifax is fortunate to have six degree-granting universities and three large community college campuses. In 2012, Halifax’s enrolment in universities hit its highest level since 2005-06, with over 24,250 students attending university at the undergraduate level and another 5,500 attending graduate school. 

Across Canada, university enrolments increased 2.8% in 2010 to over 1.2 million students. Halifax’s universities saw growth of 3.0% in 2010, above the national average and third highest among its benchmark cities. Further, the proportion of students to the overall population is third highest among the benchmark cities at 7.3 students per 100 residents – twice the national average.   

In 2011-12, students in Halifax’s undergraduate programs continued to gravitate towards health professions, science, and mathematics and engineering. Given growth in sectors requiring those backgrounds, this is not surprising. Enrolment in commerce/administration declined for the seventh year in a row while humanities and social science undergraduate enrolments declined for the sixth straight year.  

Nova Scotia Community College enrolment levels remained steady in 2012 and metro Halifax campuses recorded their highest enrolments ever. The community college’s impact on the labour market continues to expand. It offers a range of training programs required for jobs in shipbuilding, oil and gas, construction, and IT  - industries that are expected to grow over the next decade. 


Continued investment in academic research and development is important to Halifax’s economic growth. And Nova Scotia universities saw mixed interest from various sectors and levels of government. Between 2000 and 2012, Nova Scotia universities saw growth in federal government-funded research above the national average and behind only British Columbia in terms of proportional growth. They also saw above-average growth in business entrepreneurship research – behind only Newfoundland and Labrador and proportionally higher per capita than the national average. 

However, research funded by non-profit, higher education, and foreign sectors grew below average, and Halifax was second lowest among benchmark provinces – although per capita still well above Canadian averages. Of greatest concern is provincial investment in research. Already below national averages per capita, Nova Scotia saw the second-lowest growth in provincially funded research of the benchmark provinces. This topic will be explored further in the special analysis on innovation. 



Source: Statistics Canada


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