Skip to content


Thursday 22nd, November 2018

One of the exciting ways Humber is working to expand its global perspective is through strategic partnerships with other polytechnic institutions around the world. The recently launched Global Polytechnic Alliance (GPA) is a promising example of these efforts. The GPA is a collaboration between Humber College, New Zealand’s Otago Polytechnic and the VIA University College in Denmark. It’s an ambitious initiative that aims to share knowledge and expertise, create new collaborative opportunities and help build the value of polytechnic education on the global stage.



The GPA was founded with the shared purpose to improve and support polytechnic learning. “There is a real need to “strengthen the value of a polytechnic education globally,” says Diane Simpson, Humber’s Senior International Consultant and former Dean of International. It’s an idea recognized not just by higher education institutions, but also government and industry organizations around the world. “There’s a global awaking that this is a good approach to education. We’re blending theory and practice, and providing youth with the skills and knowledge they need to graduate and get jobs,” says Simpson. 

Humber has a long history of technical vocational education and training (TVET) and has been a part of building Canada’s strong reputation for post-secondary education. That puts Humber in a very good position to contribute to the global polytechnic movement and take a leadership role. Alongside Humber, Otago and VIA are also leaders in their respective regions and all three share a commitment to strengthening and promoting polytechnic education around the world.

As a strategic partnership, the GPA brings these institutions together to understand and highlight the economic and social benefits of applied learning and the experiential-classroom learning mix. GAP is an opportunity to take this conversation to a global level and focus internationally on sharing resources and experiences. “Forming this alliance allows us to share our collective expertise and enrich the understanding of global higher education trends in applied learning institutions,” says Chris Whitaker, President and CEO, Humber College.



Meeting for the first time this past summer, GAP delegates from each of these schools worked to set out the alliances priorities and goals. Those high-level goals include research, micro-credentials and joint programming.

  • Research

Through informed practice, research collaborations between the three institutions will focus on enhancing teaching and support services. It helps assess individual initiatives, how efforts are measured and then to compare those alongside the successes and initiatives at our partner institutions. Long term, this will extend not just within GAP, but also to new and emerging polytechnics globally. Shared applied research initiatives will also create new opportunities to strengthen ties with industry globally.

  • Micro-credentials

Issued as certificates or badges, micro-credentials are an innovative system for students and professionals to develop field-specific skills and have those skills assessed and recognized. Octa is already a leader in this area and has more 70 micro-credential, or EduBits, available and in practice. The GPA will help share the successes of OKTA’s program with Humber and VIA and create a platform for sharing and marketing these micro-credentials globally.

  • Joint programming

Through GPA joint programming, students at each institution will benefit from a range of new opportunities to participate in international learning experiences, including summer programs, online collaborations and semesters abroad. 



Considerable work goes into bringing three unique institutions together in a strategic partnership, along with their different cultures and practices. However, less than a year into the alliance, GPA has already made important strides to solidify its priorities and take first steps towards implementing its goals.

In Spring 2018, staff and faculty from VIA University College and Otago Polytechnic made the trip to Toronto to participate in the Global Forum on Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosted at Humber’s Lakeshore Campus. Students from all three institutions had the chance to work collaboratively on a Student Design Thinking for Social Innovation project facilitated by Taking IT Global.


The GPA was designed into Humber’s recent launched Internationalization Strategy (2018-2023). Strategic partnerships like this help maximize global learning opportunities, enhance global training and research efforts and strengthening the understanding of the benefits of polytechnic education across the globe. For Humber students and staff, collaborations like this are powerful opportunities to develop intercultural skills and share experiences that are going to give them truly global perspectives and abilities to succeed in a dynamic and rapidly changing world.


 Chris Whitaker (right) Phil Ker (centre) and Harald Mikkelsen (left)

Signing of the Memorandum of the Global Polytechnic Alliance by Chris
Whitaker, Humber College (right) Phil Ker, Otago Polytechnic (centre)
and Harald Mikkelsen, VIA University College (left)