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The basic structures of provincial and territorial education systems across Canada are similar. Each has three tiers — elementary, secondary, and postsecondary — although the grades at which each level begins and ends vary. All jurisdictions provide universal, free elementary and secondary schooling for 12 years, with the exception of Quebec where it is for 11 years. Education is compulsory to the age of 15 or 16 in most jurisdictions. In Manitoba, it is compulsory until the age of 17 and in New Brunswick, until the age of 18 or graduation from high school.

Postsecondary education is provided by public and private institutions. They may be "recognized," "registered," or "licensed" by government, or they may not be regulated in any way.

Postsecondary institutions issue degrees, diplomas, certificates, and attestations depending on the nature of those institutions and the length of the programs. At universities and university colleges, there is an emphasis on degree programs. A certain number of colleges offer applied degrees. At all other institutions, the emphasis is on diploma, certificate, and attestation programs.

(Source: Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials)