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Nobina Robinson

Chief Executive Officer, Polytechnics Canada

Nobina Robinson is Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnics Canada, a national alliance of colleges and polytechnics.


Showcase 2013 - Nobina Robinson

Special keynote - Nobina Robinson

3rd Annual Science and Policy Exchange - Nobina Robinson, CEO, Polytechnics Canada, and member of the 2011 Jenkins panel For more videos check out our YouTube channel or visit our web site: Pour plus de vidéos consultez notre chaîne YouTube ou visitez notre site web:

Polytechnics deserve a bigger slice of the federal R&D pie

The Globe and Mail Report on BusinessOnline


Innovation is not solely driven by science or basic research. Yet, the federal government regularly conflates and confuses these concepts in its efforts to push Canada toward an "innovation economy." This is shown by the skewed imbalance in how the federal government funds science, innovation and commercialization activities.

So what is innovation?

Three reasons why Canada should invest more in polytechnic education for innovation

The Hill TimesOnline


Despite the fact that Canada lacks high-quality, up-to-date labour market information, the federal government does have evidence that polytechnics are already highly integrated with industry and train students according to present and future industry needs. Why does this not capture the attention of decision-makers?

University or college? Polytechnics fall somewhere in between

Maclean's, February 24, 2016Online


“You don’t go here to study psychology or sociology or ancient history, as vital as those may be,” explains Nobina Robinson, CEO of Polytechnics Canada, a member-funded association that conducts research, development and analysis. “You go to Sheridan because they’re world leaders in animation arts. You attend Seneca to do their bachelor’s in open-source-software technical development, because they’re working with Mozilla and Firefox.”...

Championing innovation as important as unleashing science

The Hill Times, November 5, 2015Online


Let’s be honest. Barely a peep was heard about innovation from any of the three major parties over the course of the lengthy federal election campaign. And now, stimulating Canadian innovation will have to find a place on the long “to do” list of the new Liberal government. Meanwhile, Canada’s total spending on research and development is expected to decline for a third consecutive year, down 0.7 per cent from 2014. The new government will be fully aware of our sluggish international comparative rankings in innovation and competitiveness.

A university degree isn’t the only, or best, way to build your earning power

Published by The Globe and Mail

September 29, 2015

Over the past few years, gloom-and-doom news reports and commentaries have warned about the dangers of pursuing any sort of higher education other than earning a university degree, in terms of ultimate earning potential. The general argument is usually that a university degree leads to a high-paying, successful career and that other forms of postsecondary education or trades training don’t pay off. Those ideas, however, rest on a shaky foundation that crumbles under the slightest scrutiny. First off, the university-degree promoters wrongly equate the career-earning power of baby boomers who graduated from university with those recent university grads, mistakenly applying conclusions from the past to the present.



Nobina Robinson was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Polytechnics Canada in May 2009. She held progressive appointments in the federal government and non-profit sectors since 1990.
Mrs. Robinson began her public service career in 1990 when she joined the Treasury Board Secretariat as a management trainee. Two years later, she became a Foreign Service Officer and was posted as a political officer to the Canadian Embassy in Havana from 1994 to 1997. From 1998 to 2002, Mrs. Robinson led FOCAL, a policy institute on Canada’s relations with the Americas.
Before joining Polytechnics Canada, Mrs. Robinson was the Ottawa-based Senior Government Relations Advisor for Seneca College, responsible for federal advocacy for one of Canada's largest colleges.
Mrs. Robinson has a B.A. from Amherst College, an M.A. from Oxford University (Commonwealth Scholar 1985-1988) and has pursued post-graduate studies at Yale University.
Mrs. Robinson served as a member of the Expert Panel on the Review of Federal Support to Research and Development that completed its work in October 2011.
In her capacity as CEO of Polytechnics Canada, Mrs. Robinson supports a number of other like-minded groups, including the Business Higher Education Roundtable, the Human Resources Committee of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the C.D. Howe Institute and is a Champion member of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum.
Mrs. Robinson has previously served as a Board Member of the Rideau Club of Ottawa.


Commonwealth Scholar | Professional

1985 Awarded by the Commowealth Scholarship Commission

Additional Titles and Affiliations

Seneca College : Senior Government Relations Advisor

The Institute of Public Administration of Canada

Panel Member Federal Review of Business R&D

Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

Executive Director Canadian Foundation for the Americas

Board Member Rideau Club of Ottawa

CAMMAC Ottawa-Gatineau


  • Team Leadership
  • R&d and Innovation
  • Public Policy and Advocacy
  • Proposal Writing
  • Program Evaluation
  • Post-Secondary Education in Canada
  • International Relations
  • Higher Education Advocacy
  • Government Relations
  • Cuba Canada Relations
  • Non-profit Boards


  • Yale University
    Ph.D., 1990
  • University of Oxford
    M.A., 1988
  • Amherst College
    B.A., 1984