Another great conference is history. See the highlights.
  • historyimage Rick Hansen
  • historyimage Honourable Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development
  • historyimage Workshop participants
  • historyimage Deputy Minister Greg Orencsak and the winners of the Student Pitch Competition
  • historyimage Roberta Jamieson speaks to a full house
  • historyimage Steve Silberman
  • historyimage Rick Hansen meets with participants from the Student Pitch Competition
Presentations now available on the Program and Speakers pages

Access in Practice: Putting great ideas to work

Access in Practice: Lessons Learned

HEQCO’s eighth annual conference, Access in Practice: Putting great ideas to work, brought together more than 400 representatives from colleges and universities, the K-12 sector, the government and community organizations to explore initiatives that they could adapt, implement and assess to ensure that all students have the opportunity to pursue postsecondary education.

Here are some conference highlights:

‘When you’re looking at me, tell me what do you see?’

Toni Morgan began her keynote speech by challenging the audience to focus on student assets and opportunities rather than deficits when developing programs; one example she gave is to think of “at-risk” students as resilient. In the same vein, keynote speaker Steve Silberman raised the idea of “neurodiversity” as an inclusive way to approach neurological differences. He advocated embracing this concept to restructure how we think about learning spaces in the hopes that they might nurture all students.

This theme resounded throughout conference discussions, spurring educators to ground their interventions and programs in what students have to offer rather than the barriers they face.

If you build it (where they are), they will come

Many of our panelists emphasized the importance of identifying the real needs of communities and their students to improve access to postsecondary education. We saw that initiatives that were successful in achieving accessible, tailored and meaningful approaches to serving diverse groups of students in a variety of settings did so by working within the physical communities they served and relying on the insights of those who live there.

Giving students a seat at the table

HEQCO’s inaugural Student Pitch Competition brought together 15 teams of postsecondary students from Toronto and Thunder Bay to identify and address the barriers students face on their way to and through postsecondary.
Students were given just four hours to develop a solution to a barrier, create a “pitch” and then present their idea to three expert judges. The resulting pitches, both innovative and practical, drew on students’ personal experiences. Teams from both communities told us that while many campus resources exist to address barriers, too often they are not well-known or accessed by the students who need them the most. In response, several pitches centered on finding innovative ways to communicate with students about the supports available to them such as pre-admission outreach strategies, standardizing services across institutions, integrating opportunities to access resources into classroom curriculums and leveraging technology to assist students in finding the tools they need when they need them.

Want to learn more about the Access in Practice conference? We’ve posted several conference presentations under the program tab and included a few photographs below.

Featured Speakers

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Interactive Workshops



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Venue & Accomodations

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Delta Toronto
75 Lower Simcoe St
Toronto, ON M5J 3A6
(416) 849-1200
Getting There


A block of rooms has been reserved at a conference rate of $229. The deadline to book is March 5, 2018.

To book online, click the following link Book your group rate for HEQCO

To book by phone, call 1-844-496-8542 and mention HEQCO to get the conference rate.

Join us in April and start putting great ideas to work

The conference is currently at full capacity but you may register on the wait list.