Canada’s colleges and universities roll out fall pandemic plans

Last updated July 30, 2021

More than 97 per cent of Canadian colleges and universities have announced their fall pandemic plans. In September 2020, students were adjusting to a virtual return to campus, while only a few cohorts across the country attended small in-person classes where infection rates were low and facilities could accommodate social distancing, or where degree requirements left few alternatives (think clinical nursing programs). Just four per cent of colleges and universities nationwide delivered classes in-person as post-secondary institutions tried to strike a balance between keeping students and staff safe while moving higher learning forward in the middle of a global pandemic. tracked the steps of more than 150 of Canada’s top colleges and universities as they transformed campuses to adhere to the recommendations of health officials, grappled with the logistics of moving entire programs online, and confronted lost revenues from non-academic activities, events and residences — all while trying to remain financially viable. Meanwhile, schools prepared for the worst as governments shutdown borders to international students who, by some estimates, would have accounted for more than half of all student fees paid in 2020-2021.

As part of our continuing coverage, we are monitoring the evolving landscape as it develops for colleges and universities in 2021-2022. Concerns over student safety haven’t abated, but the conversation has taken on optimistic, although no less urgent, new dimensions. Will unvaccinated students returning to campus be required to get a vaccine? Will international students be subject to special quarantine requirements? What role should online and hybrid learning continue to play in keeping students safe? And are these evolving models for delivering higher education here to stay?

Here are some highlights of current trends we’re seeing across the country, which we will be updating regularly throughout the summer:


An average 51.6 per cent of post-secondary schools in the country will deliver programs in-person this fall, while 41.2 per cent have chosen to continue with a hybrid model. Just 4.6 per cent of schools in Canada are offering courses predominantly if not entirely online — the same percentage that offered in-person classes last year. Roughly 3 per cent have yet to officially announce their plans.

By comparison, going into September 2020, just four per cent of schools planned to offer in-person courses, 40 per cent announced they would switch to hybrid learning, and 53 per cent were moving most if not all of their courses online.

So far, only Seneca College will require students attending in-person classes to be vaccinated, while the following institutions have made vaccination mandatory for students living in residence:

  • Trent University
  • University of Toronto
  • Fanshawe College
  • Ryerson University
  • York University
  • Fleming College
  • Durham College
  • Ontario Tech University
  • Cape Breton
  • McMaster University
  • University of Ottawa
  • University of Waterloo
  • Western University
  • Sault College

More more than a dozen others universities have introduced vaccination campaigns, mobile clinics or paid leave policies for staff and new and returning students in the fall (see “Will vaccines be mandatory?” below for more details).

The interactive table below shows schools’ plans for September 2021. It includes summaries of schools’ safety and vaccination policies, along with direct links to the latest news, FAQs and COVID-19 student resources at each school. Further below, additional tables are available by province.

All SchoolsAll Provinces 4% in person52% in person 10% require vaccination
Bow Valley College ABOnlineHybridReturning to in person courses in the fall but will still offer students a choice of online/blended/in-person learning. Int'l students can study online (remotely) until Dec 31 TBD
MacEwan UniversityABOnlineHybridPlanning for more in person learning, dependent on class size. Considering rotating groups of students, for one class, to be in-person some courses and remote others.TBD
University of AlbertaABHybridHybrid80% planned to be in person classes, 20% will be online.TBD
Northern Alberta Institute of TechnologyABHybridHybridNAIT will be offering courses online and on-campus with facilities reduced to one-third of fire code capacity.TBD
Douglas CollegeBCOnlineHybridPlan to return to in person classes for fall 2021. But will still have hybrid and online course optionsTBD
Emily Carr University of Art & DesignBCOnlineHybridEmily Carr will offer hybrid learning options with substantial face-to-face instruction. A robust offering of online options will continue to be available.TBD
VanWest CollegeBCIn personHybridVanWest is offering students both online and in-person options, depending on the program.TBD
University of Northern British ColumbiaBCOnlineHybridincreased return of in person classes. More information will be released shortlyThe University is promoting paid leave for covid-19 vaccination and encouraging students to be vaccinated.
Arbutus CollegeBCHybridHybridVirtual classes will be pre-recorded for international students. Has a $1500 grant for students who incur hotel quarantine costs upon arrival.TBD
Brandon UniversityMBOnlineHybridBrandon University plans to limit in-person courses, aiming for mostly online learning with student services delivered online, too. Only classes with 25 or fewer students can be in person.TBD
Manitoba Institute of Trades and TechnologyMBHybridHybridPlanning for in person or online learning options.TBD
Universite de Saint BonifaceMBOnlineHybridPlanning to offer some courses in person. Expect 35% of students to attend an in person class during the fall. All other courses will be remote learningTBD
University College of the NorthMBOnlineHybridSome programs, such as trades and nursing, will be in person. Others will remain online for the time being. UCN says 42 per cent of classes will be delievered in person.TBD
University of ManitobaMBOnlineHybridUoM plans to resume more in-person instruction in the fall. Classes will be limited to 20 students, labs limited to 25. Larger classes will remain online.TBD
University of WinnipegMBOnlineHybridPlanning for in class learning. The univeristy plans on having 42 per cent of classes in person.TBD
Crandal UniversityNBHybridHybridPlan to deliver courses via a hybrid model for all programs.TBD
New Brunswick Community CollegeNBOnlineHybridExpected to be in person 40-80 per cent of the time, depending on the prorgram.TBD
University of New BrunswickNBHybridHybridBlended learning model. most classes will be at least partially in person. Expect students to be able to reach campusTBD
Cape Breton UniversityNSOnlineHybridPlanning a return to campus starting in May, beginning with limited in person learning and slowly moving to fully in person. Exact timeline not definiedCape Breton University students living in residence are requrired to have at have at least their first dose of a vaccine 14 days before moving in.
Mount Saint Vincent UniversityNSHybridHybridPlans to offer in person classes, as well as online to those who choose to learn remotely.TBD
Universite Sainte-AnneNSHybridHybridThey expect to transition to more students in person. But there will still be online courses offered. Planning for a hybrid model. Students will have the option to choose to attend courses in person or to learn remotely.TBD
Algoma UniversityONOnlineHybridExpect a hybrid style of courses for the fall, from in-person to virtual to blended classesTBD
Algonquin CollegeONHybridHybridPlan for the Fall term is to "minimize face-to-face" instruction whenever possible. Courses don't "require hands-on instruction in a lab-based setting will be delivered remotely".TBD
Cambrian CollegeONHybridHybridPlans to start the fall with a hybrid model and transition to in person delivery. Will work to maintain the flexibility that online courses provided students, by looking at ways to keep online optionsTBD
Canadore CollegeONHybridHybridWant to move more students to in person learning during the fall. Will offer both remote and online learning optionsTBD
Carleton UniversityONOnlineHybridPlanning for a majority of classes to return to in-person, while providing online options for flexibility. Recommending that international students come back to Canada for school since most courses will be in-personTBD
Confederation CollegeONHybridHybridPlan to increase the number of students learning in person on their campus for the fall. Return will be gradual.TBD
Durham CollegeONHybridHybridPredominantly offering remote and hybrid learning for fall 2021. Some flexible options - where students can choose either in person or remoteStudents living in residence are required to have at least one dose of a vaccine, and their second dose scheduled.
Fanshawe CollegeONHybridHybridPlan to increase in person learning, particuarly for small classes and labsFanshawe will require students in residence to be vaccinated. Students are expected to have at least one dose, and be scheduled to receive a second in the recommended timeframe.
Fleming CollegeONHybridHybridPlan for flexible learning. Meaning online and in-person options for courses. Think that most theory-based courses will be online and then slowly transition to in person, with social distancing, depending on the spaceFleming is requiring students living in residence to have at least one dose of a vaccine.
Georgian CollegeONOnlineHybridCombination of fully online, hybrid, and in-person delivery.TBD
Humber CollegeONHybridHybridBlend of online and in person classes. Planning for in person components for most programs this fall.TBD
Lambton CollegeONHybridHybridplanning for a hybrid model for classes in the fallTBD
McMaster UniversityONOnlineHybridPlans to have more in person courses. When students go to register for courses, they will be marked accordingly to indicate if they're online or in person.McMaster is requiring students in residence to be fully vaccinated within 14 days of moving in.
Redeemer University CollegeONHybridHybridNo update since Nov. 27. Hybrid model planned for upcoming school year.TBD
University of OttawaONOnlineHybridplanning for in-person/virutal learning classes. Equipping classrooms with technology to help with that. But they are hoping to have as many in person classes as possibleStudents living in residence must have at least one dose of a vaccine two weeks before moving in.
University of SudburyONOnlineHybrid*same as laurentianU:Fall orientation will be virtual. Have a plan to return to in-person learning - possibly a blended modelTBD
York UniversityONHybridHybridSome in person and will have option for online component.York will require students living in residence, but not those living off campus or in student apartments, to be partially vaccinated.
Mohawk CollegeONHybridHybridMohawk continues to plan for a significant increase to on-campus learning this Fall with a mix of virtual, remote and in-person learning planned for most programsTBD
Laurentian UniversityONOnlineHybridFall orientation will be virtual. Have a plan to return to in-person learning - possibly a blended modelFollowing public health guidelines, but not requiring vaccines for on campus activity.
Ontario Tech University (UOIT)ONOnlineHybridCourse selection website will advise which courses are online or in person.Students living in residence are required to have at least one dose of a vaccine, and their second dose scheduled.,-2021.php
University of WaterlooONOnlineHybridlarge classes remain online, smaller courses, labs, clinicals will be offered in person.Students in residence must have one dose of a vaccine prior to moving in, and must have their second dose scheduled for before November 1st.
Maritime Christian CollegePEIOnlineHybridMost courses are being delivered online, with a select few being taught in person.TBD
University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)PEIHybridHybridas much in-person as possible. Will still be offering hybrid and remote courses in the fallTBD
University of HearstQCOnlineHybridFall 2021 plan is a blend of in person and remote learning with "opportunities for on campus activities". Says that they expect students to be in Montreal for the first day of the fall term.TBD
Ecole Polytechnique de MontrealQCOnlineHybridPlan for mostly on campus learning.Encouraging international students to return to Montreal. Larger classes will need to remain onlineTBD
Universit_ de LavalQCHybridHybridPlanning to maximize in person learning but will still offer a big selection of remote learning courses incase of travel restrictions, etc.TBD
Univesite de MontrealQCOnlineHybridSignificant return to on campus learning. Approximately 50% of in-person classes will resume in the fall of 2022.TBD
University of ReginaSKHybridHybridSome in person classes, but many remote classes will be offered in fall 2021Vaccines are strongly encouraged but not mandatory.
University of SaskatchewanSKOnlineHybridPlanning for more return to in-person classes, some classes will still be remote.The University is providing info for how to book a vaccine appointment, and providing special leave for getting the vaccination. A strong message is being delivered to students that everyone getting vaccinated is crucial for the plan to return to campus to work.
Assiniboine Community CollegeMBHybridHybridStudents should expect to be on campus for a portion of their classes. Some will be taught remotley as well.Students able to prove they've been vaccinated by Sept. 6 are entered into a contest to win free tuition and course fees for the 2021-22 year. Other winners will recieve $100 book store gift cards
Red River College of Applied Arts, Science and TechMBHybridHybridSome blended course delivery is expected for certian programs, with limited on campus activity. Only courses that require hands on learning elements are expected to be in person.TBD
Kingswood UniversityNBIn personHybridStudents are able to choose to go in-person or remain online for classesTBD
St. Clair CollegeONOnlineHybridSome programs will be taught online for fall 2021, while others will return to in person.TBD
Centennial CollegeONOnlineHybridCentennial anticipates a partial return of students to campus, with some classes being offered online.TBD
Conestoga CollegeONHybridHybridMost classes will be remote or adopt a hybrid model. Only pre-approvied classes will have any in person content.TBD
Ryerson UniversityONOnlineHybridRyerson is planning on some in person classes this fall, and a full return to campus in January 2022.Ryerson announced on June 15 that students in residence must be vaccinated. The university reccomnds students recieve their first dose at least 14 days prior to their move-in date.
Nipissing UniversityONOnlineHybridPlanning for a return to campus this fall. Online options will be made avaiable for all classes.TBD
College of the North AtlanticNLOnlineHybridDepending on the program, courses may be delivered full online, partially online, or fully in person.TBD
Nova Scotia College of Art & DesignNSOnlineHybridThe majority of courses, 153, will be delivered in person, with 25 online and only one hybrid program.TBD
Dominican University CollegeONTBDHybridThe univeristy is offering both online and in person courses for fall 2021.TBD
Bishop's UniversityQCIn personHybridMost classes are being offered in person, but some are being taught online in both synchronous and asynchronous models. Welcomes international students, although there has been no official since Feb. 2021. Was still in-person, they do periodic saliva testing for students in residences.TBD
WeCloudDataONOnlineHybridWe cloud is offering both online and in person options for students in fall 2021.TBD
Alberta University of the ArtsABOnlineIn personAUArts plans to resume in-person learning in the fall.TBD
Concordia University of EdmontonABHybridIn personPlanning for a full return to in person classes for fall 2021. May also be able to offer some more virtual options for students and will be introducing new flexible delivery courses. Open to welcoming international students subject to the travel restrictions in placeTBD
Grand Prairie Regional CollegeABOnlineIn personPlanning for a potential return to in person classesTBD
Lethbridge CollegeABOnlineIn personPlanning for most classes to return to in personTBD
Lethbridge UniversityABHybridIn personPlanning for most classes to return to in personStudents who are vaccinated are entered into a contest to win free tuition. Nine students will be given full tuition in 2021. Others will win gift cards and other prizes. A draw takes place Sept. 10.
Mount Royal UniversityABOnlineIn personAs much as 80 per cent of courses will be offered in person, with the rest being remote. Full information, as well as which classes will be avaialble remotely, have yet to be decided.
Red Deer CollegeABHybridIn personMajority of classes will be in person, with some being offered as hybrid or online exclusive courses.TBD
Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT)ABOnlineIn personClasses that require in person delivery, such as trades courses, have been in person since May. More students are expected to join in person learning this fall.TBD
The King's University CollegeABHybridIn personPlans to return to campus fully, with some safety measure in place. Allowing international students, as long as all requirements are met.TBD
University of CalgaryABHybridIn personMore classes are being held in person this year. Labs and public spaces such as libraries will also be more accessible.TBD
Alexander CollegeBCOnlineIn personPlan to almost fully reopen campus for in-person classes and resume some student services. will continue to offer a select number of fully online courses to students who wish to remain virtual for the Fall 2021 term.TBD
British Columbia Institute of TechnologyBCHybridIn personPlanning a full return to in person courses for the fall. international students section still says that some courses will be offered online so they may be able to start the semester remotely. Part-time program international students are encouraged to return to CanadaTBD
Camosun CollegeBCHybridIn personPlans for a full return to in person learning.The College is offering a paid leave of absence to staff/faculty to get vaccinated based on the amendment to the Employment Standards Act of BC
Capilano UniversityBCOnlineIn personPlanning a full return to in person classes for the fallTBD
Centre for Arts & TechnologyBCOnlinein personThe private college has been offering in-person classes since July 2020, which they expect to continue into fall 2021TBD
Langara CollegeBCOnlineIn personMajority of courses will be in-person for fall 2021.TBD
Okanagan CollegeBCHybridIn personPlanning return to in person progrmas, following provincial guide to return to campus.TBD
Royal Roads UniversityBCOnlineIn personRoyal Roads is welcoming students back to campus for in person learning and following B.C.'s primer.TBD
Selkirk CollegeBCHybridIn personHopeful to return to campus as long as numbers remain low. Following B.C.'s retirn to campus primer.TBD
Simon Fraser UniversityBCOnlineIn personA four stage plan is being implimented to ensure the safe return to entirely on campus activity.TBD
Thompson Rivers UniversityBCHybridIn personMost programs will be taught in person this fall, some will remain remote for the time being.TBD
Trinity WestenBCHybridIn personIn-person classes to resume in the fall.TBD
University Canada WestBCHybridIn personPreparing for in person classes with dedicated quarantine support and online events for students. Paid Student Ambassadors will further assist students on campus. Masks will be required on campus.TBD
Vancouver Institute of Media ArtsBCHybridIn personMost programs are being deilviered almost entirely in person, with a few days online. Three programs, web development, game art and design, and visual effects are remaining online. TBD
University of British ColumbiaBCOnlinein personPlanning to return to in person classes for the fall.UBC is encouraging students to get vaccinated in their FAQs and through other communications channels.
University of the Fraser ValleyBCHybridin personPlans for a full return to in person classes.TBD
University of VictoriaBCOnlinein personPlanning for a full return to in person classes, but UVic is considering keeping remote learning options for students unable to attend in-person classes.TBD
Vancouver Community CollegeBCOnlineIn personPlanning on a return to in-person learning.A vaccine clinic will be set up on campus.
Vancouver Island UniversityBCHybridIn personPlanning for in person for Fall 2021. Updates on international students coming soon.TBD
Canadian Mennonite UniversityMBIn personIn personPrimarily in person classes for the fall. Will offer some hybrid/online options to accommodate students who still want to learn onlineTBD
Mount AllisonNBHybridIn personMount Allison will provide as much in-person programming as possible for fall 2021, under stated plans for a predominantly hybrid model with complementary online classes.TBD
New Brunswick College of Craft and DesignNBHybridIn personThe college is continuing in-person classes.TBD
St. Thomas UniversityNBHybridIn personPlanning for in person, but no offical plan has been announced yet.TBD
Maritime College of Forest TechnologyNBOnlineIn personFully in person delivery for Fall 2021.TBD
Memorial UniversityNLOnlineIn personClasses are expected to be in person for the Fall 2021 semester.TBD
Acadia UniversityNSHybridIn personPlan for a full return in the fall, welcoming all studentsTBD
Dalhousie UniversityNSOnlineIn personAlmost all classes will be returning to campus this fall. International students are also to be welcome at Dalhousie.TBD
Nova Scotia Community CollegeNSHybridIn PersonPlans for in person learning to resume as soon as the summer semester are already in place.TBD
Saint Mary's UniversityNSOnlineIn personWill offer a complete on campus expereince, with residence, dining, athletics and library open. Will also offer some programs online.TBD
St. Francis XavierNSIn personIn personSt. FX will remain open and operational under strict conditions.No vaccine requirements have been announced, but masks and social distancing measures will be in place. Parents and visitors will not be allowed in student residences.
Aurora CollegeNTOnlineIn personThe majority of courses will be delivered "face-to-face" at all of the college's locations. In-perspn classes will be capped at 30 people.No vaccine requirements, and residences will be "open and available as usual" with enhanced cleaning protocols.
Nunavut Arctic CollegeNUHybridIn PersonIn person or online deleivery depends on which campus students are expected to be at. One campus is currently open, while three others have restrictions to the public and students.TBD
Loyalist CollegeONHybridIn personPlan for return to in person classes.TBD
Niagara CollegeONOnlineIn personSignifigantly more students are expected on campus for fall 2021. Some programs will continue with a mix of online or fully remote learning as well.
OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design)ONOnlineIn personPlanning for return to some in-person learning. Students are advised to be in Toronto for September.TBD
Saint Paul UniversityONOnlineIn personAnticipating most courses will be in person in fall, with some hybrid. International students are welcome.TBD
Sault CollegeONOnlineIn personAnticipating students in person, while being cautious about covid numbers in the area. Prepared to move online just in case.Sault College has made vaccination mandatory by Sept. 20 for "those living/working in its student residence and for team staff, students and coaches within its varsity athletics program."
YesONOnlineIn personA mostly in person semester is planned, though no specifics are given by the school.Seneca is requring all students attending in person classes to be vaccinated.
St. Lawrence CollegeONOnlineIn personSt. Lawrence College plans on returning students to in-person classes.TBD
Toronto School of ManagementONHybridIn personAll programs are expected to be taught in person.TBD
Wilfrid Laurier UniversityONOnlineIn personWilfired Laurier will increase its number of available in-person classes this fall, with a plan to be fully in-person by Winter 2022.TBD
Boreal CollegeONOnlineIn personBoreal is tentatively planning to deliver all labs and the vast majority of its courses in person in the fall. Some virtual instruction will continue.TBD
Brock UniversityONOnlineIn personPlans to move back to in-person for the fall, for as many courses as possible.Brock has made vaccination mandatory for students living in residences. The University will be hosting a community vaccination clinic on campus.
Lakehead UniversityONOnlineIn personPlan for in-person classes for the majority of programs. Considering offering remote options for students who prefer remoteTBD
Queen's UniversityONOnlineIn personPlanning in person activity in September. The school is planning for a full return to campus without class limits or physical distancing, but is still requiring masks.TBD
Trent UniversityONHybridIn personReturn to in person, however Trent will still offer online learning to students who want to remain online.Students who want to live in residence at Trent will require a single dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine. The University will help students obtain a vaccine within 14 days of arrival if they have not already done so on their own.
University of GuelphONOnlinein personPlanning to return to in-person course delivery, with some hybrid options for select programs.TBD
University of TorontoONHybridin personPlanning for a return to mostly in person classes. UofT will, however, restrict large social gatherings.The university is requiring students living in residence to be vaccinated. It recomends they recieve their first dose at least 14 days prior to moving in.
University of WindsorONHybridIn personMaximising on campus activity, while also offering some hybrid options to accomidate students.TBD
Western UniversityONHybridIn personPlans for in-person learning. The university is onverting one residence building for upper year students to accomodate first year students only, to ensure all first year students can get a room. will require all students living in residence to have at least one vaccine upon arrival, and have the second dose booked.. Vaccination clinics will be avaialble on campus.
Holland CollegePEIHybridIn personExpect all students to be back on campus for fall 2021. No more than 50 people in a class.TBD
Ecole de technologie superieurQCOnlineIn personPlan to have all students back on campus for fall 2021.Welcome international studensTBD
HEC MontrealQCHybridIn personPlan to offer as many in-person classes as possible. Expect all students to return to montreal for fall 2021 courses. But will offer remote learning for students who are unable to attend in person.TBD
McGill UniversityQCOnlineIn personReturning to in person as much as possible. Students are expcted to be in Montreal come September.TBD
Univeriste du Quebec a Trois-RiviereQCOnlineIn personPlanning for courses to be mainly in person. Accepting international students and letting them know that courses will be in person and students should anticipate being able to be present in Quebec.TBD
Universite du Quebec a ChicoutimiQCOnlineIn personExpect most courses to be back to in-person learning. Expect international students to be prepared to attend classes in person.TBD
Universite du Quebec a Montreal (UQAM)QCOnlineIn personPlanning for courses to be in person as much as possible. Students, including int'l students, must take the steps necessary to be on campus this fall.TBD
Universite du Quebec a RimouskiQCOnlineIn personPlanning for as much of a return to in-person classes as possible. Expect all students, including international students, to be present in QC for the start of fall 2021 classes.TBD
Universite du Quebec en Abitibi-TemiscamingueQCOnlineIn personExpect international students to be present on campus. Anticipating having to be flexible in how they offer courses, especially if the space they have doesn't accommodate the necessary social distancing rules. If they can't accommodate all students in person, they will prioritize in-person classes for people who are in their first year.TBD
Universit_ du Qu_bec en OutaouaisQCOnlineIn personReturn to in person learning for most classes.TBD
Saskatchewan PolytechnicSKHybridIn personStudents are expected to be on campus in September for the majority of their learning for the year. There may be some courses that are hybrid or online only as well.
Yukon UniversityYTHybridIn personWorking with Yukon government to make sure they can return to in person.TBD
Kwantlen Polytechnic UniversityBCOnlineIn personKPU is planning for in person classes for fall 2021, in accordance with the provincial return-to-campus primerTBD
Sprott Shaw CollegeBCHybridIn personSprott Shaw is currently open for students and plans to remain that way for the fall semester.TBD
Royal Military CollegeONOnlineIn personRoyal Military College returned to in person in February 2021, and will continue in person for the foreseeable future.TBD
Universite de MonctonNBHybridIn personThe majority of classes will take place in person.TBD
BrainStationONOnlineIn personBrainStation's Toronto and Vancouver campuses will open September 20th, at which point classes will resume for diploma/bootcamp
Coll_ge Acadie I.P.EPEIHybridIn personPlanning to return to in person classes for the fall.TBD
Athabasca UniversityABOnlineOnlineAU doesn't plan to re-open for in-person learning, but the University had a considerable online course offering before the pandemic and is well-positioned to remain online.TBD
Medicine Hat CollegeABOnlineOnlineTransitioning all in-person classes online for summer semester. No update on fall semester yet.TBD
George Brown CollegeONOnlineOnlineAnticipate that most programs will be online during fall 2021. Where clinical/lab work is required, George Brown is offering a hybrid model.TBD
Lighthouse LabsONOnlineOnlineLighthouse Labs is continuing online delivery for the foreseeable future, saying safety is their number one priority.TBD
Sheridan CollegeONOnlineOnlineSheridan expects as much as 45 per cent of classes to have some degree of in person learning. The remaining 55 per cent is virtual-only for the time being.TBD
TELUQQCOnlineOnlineTeluq is an entirely remote school.TBD
Juno CollegeONOnlineOnlineAs of June 2021, Juno is online only with no indication of when it plans on returning to in
Eastern CollegeNBHybridTBDNo updates for the fall semester, just released that they'll keep courses remote throughout the summer and then re-evaluateTBD
McKenzie CollegeNBOnlineTBDTBDTBD
La CiteONHybridTBDMost recent update from April 2021 says the schools allows 10 students in essential face-to-face prgrams only.TBD

Will vaccines be mandatory?

Health and safety protocols recommended by health authorities in each region will continue to be top of mind for all institutions. Health screening and education procedures, approved by provincial or territorial governments, will be in place. Masking, physical distancing requirements and mandatory self-screening, as well as enhanced cleaning, will be the new reality on campuses.

But increasing Canadian vaccination rates have raised a controversial new question: Should COVID-19 vaccinations be mandatory on campuses this fall?

As Dianne Rinehart reported for CourseCompare, a number of U.S. colleges have made, or are planning to make, vaccination a requirement for students returning in September. Others, are using a carrot approach, holding on-campus vaccination blitzes or dangling incentives in front of student to get the vaccine.

In Canada, Trent, Western, the University of Toronto, Fanshawe College, Ryerson University, Durham College, and Ontario Tech University were among the first to require first-dose vaccinations, but only for students living in residence. Durham and Ontario Tech also require students to have scheduled their second dose. Only Seneca College has so far announced students attending in-person classes will need to be vaccinated.

Generally, students will need to be vaccinated within 14 days of arriving on campus, and institutions will help students book appointments locally. The exception to this rule is Ryerson University, which “recommends” students get their first dose at least 14 days before their move-in date.

“Requiring vaccines for students living in residence will be an important way to ensure that we avoid residence outbreaks and are able to offer our residence students the transformative on-campus experiences students have learned to expect from Trent,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University in a June news release.

In a move publicly endorsed by the Middlesex-London Health Unit, Western University will also require students living in residence to have at least one dose of an approved vaccine. The University will set up vaccination clinics on campus, giving students who arrive in London, Ont., without a shot 14 days to get vaccinated.

On June 8, the University of Toronto was the third institution to announce that students will need a first shot prior to moving into residence. The University will help students access vaccines, subject to supply.

At Lethbridge University, vaccinated students will be entered into a contest to win free tuition. Nine students will have their tuition paid by the University in 2021, while others will win gift cards and prizes. A draw will take place September 10.

Similarly, Assiniboine Community College is offering students who can prove they’ve been vaccinated a chance to win free tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year, with $100 book store gift cards available to runners up.

Other schools, like the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Northern British Columbia, are offering staff paid leave to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, Brock University and Vancouver Community College were among the first to announce that on-campus vaccine clinics would be available to students and faculty.

“Without enough vaccine supply, a mandate wouldn’t really make much sense and would be unfair to those who are willing, but unable to be vaccinated,” said Maxwell Smith, co-director of the Health Ethics, Law and Policy Lab at Western University in a May interview with CourseCompare.

That’s not to say it would be unethical to require a vaccination for students to be on campus if there was enough supply available, says the assistant professor who is also an associate member of the Rotman Institute of Philosophy.

“We know that Canadian universities and colleges have been able to offer educational offerings online over the past year,” he says. “Consequently, vaccination mandates should not deny students education opportunities, but may change the modality in which they receive those education opportunities.”

In addition, he points out that vaccination mandates “do not force people to get vaccinated, nor do they usually come with criminal sanctions in cases of non-compliance.”

Instead, they impose conditions on those who are not vaccinated. For example, students could be barred from attending classes in person through registration holds or refused rooms in residences. In rare cases, they could face expulsion.

International student enrollment

Many Canadian colleges and universities rely on international student enrolment and the high tuition it represents to remain financially viable.

Last year, Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ont., suspended admissions for 17 of its courses, citing low demand. The University went on to file for creditor protection in 2021 for reasons many attribute to a failure of governance — by Laurentian’s administrators and the Ontario Government. But reports suggest low enrollment from high-paying international students was a contributing factor. Dalhousie University in Halifax, N.S., said in June 2020 that it expected a decline of up to $37.8 million in tuition revenue and another $12 million in other losses. July 2020 projections at the University of British Columbia showed the University could lose $77 million in international student fees. In aggregate, some speculated Canadian universities could lose billions, not millions, due to COVID-19.

New preliminary data from Universities Canada show a decrease in international student enrollment at Canadian universities for the fall of 2021, but also that higher education performed better overall than expected.

More than 1.4 million domestic students enrolled in Canadian universities in 2021, representing 2 per cent overall growth (more than 22,000 additional students). This is consistent with the rate of growth over the past five years. First-year enrollment dropped 4.6 per cent, but universities did see an increase in part-time enrollment of 4.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, 205,000 international students enrolled in full-time studies at Canadian universities. This is a decrease of about 2.1 per cent, compared to an average 10 per cent growth over the past 5 years. Fifty-one institutions saw a decline in international student enrollment. Of those, 26 institutions lost more than 10 per cent of their international students, and 14 institutions lost more than 20 per cent of their international students compared to last year.

Universities are optimistic these numbers will continue to rise, hoping the current backlog at visa centres is quickly addressed and that study permits for international students will be delivered on time.


Provincial highlights: 38 per cent of classes will be held in-person; 53 per cent will be hybridsix per cent will be online. Four per cent of schools are yet to formally announce their intentions.

The Ontario Government reduced tuition by 10 per cent in January 2019 and at the time the province indicated it would remain frozen until 2021. Universities such as Lakehead University and Windsor University increased international tuition by between 5 and 15 per cent, causing concern for students from abroad, some of whom stayed in the country when COVID-19 hit and may not have had a chance to work throughout much of 2020.


Provincial highlights: 81 per cent of classes will be in-person19 per cent will be hybridzero per cent will be fully online.

The province had one of the lowest average tuition increases for international students last year at three per cent.


Provincial highlights: 62.5 per cent of classes will be held in person; 25 per cent will be hybrid12.5 per cent will be online.

Universities and colleges in Alberta announced tuition increases in 2020, but these are not related to COVID-19. As of Jan. 1, 2020, post-secondary schools in Alberta were allowed to raise tuition by seven per cent, up to 10 per cent over the next three years. The current government cancelled a five-year freeze on tuition in the fall of 2019. Changes also included cutting $225 million in education and tuition tax credits over the next three years and increasing interest on student loans.


Provincial highlights: 43.8 per cent of classes will be held in person; 43.8 per cent will be hybrid; 12.5 per cent will be online.

The University of Manitoba will offer predominantly online delivery with reduced class sizes.

Red River College of Applied Arts, Science and Technology will welcome no more than 40 per cent of its student population on campus. The school will provide a phased approach; from August 31 to December 31 there will be no more than 40 per cent of campus population by campus/building. Some blended delivery for targeted academic programs will begin as well. All in-person learning will be augmented by hybrid, online learning tools.

The Canadian Mennonite University will provide on-campus living and in-person classes in the fall. It claims to be the only “fully accredited Manitoba university to do so.”


Provincial highlights: 55.6 per cent of classes will be held in person; 44.4 per cent hybrid course delivery.

Dalhousie University has moved to a virtual environment and has launched [email protected] to connect upper-year students with cohorts of new students in their area of study and a new student life app will be launched.

Cape Breton University is closed to the public and courses are being provided online only, while St. Francis Xavier University is offering a mix of online and classroom learning this fall with 72 per cent of undergraduate courses offered in-person.


Provincial highlights:  45.5 per cent of classes will be held in person; 36.4 per cent hybrid course delivery; 18.2 per cent have yet to formally announce plans for the fall. 


Our fall 2021 data for Quebec is coming soon. The following information reflects colleges’ and universities’ plans for the fall of 2020. 

Most of Quebec’s universities and CÉGEP junior colleges plan to offer their courses online.

There are a few exceptions such as the Université de Sherbrooke which will be turning to outdoor venues from September to October to provide an alternative learning environment.

“The Univesité de Sherbrooke plans to hold face-to-face educational activities in the fall term, to allow as many students as possible to do as many activities and experiences as possible on campus,” says Isabelle Huard, a media-relations officer with Université de Sherbrooke.

Huard says between 40 to 100 per cent of the baccalaureate programs will be in-person for the fall term, depending on the program. The school has acquired additional facilities to accommodate the plan, including churches.

In addition to planning outdoor classes, some courses will be given at the Cultural Centre and in churches in Sherbrooke. Twelve outdoor sites that can accommodate between 16 and 100 students each are located on the main campus. These will be grassy spaces, at the campus open-air theatre and along the edges of pavilions, including the School of Music.

“If everything goes as planned, and as long as the weather permits, outdoor classes will be offered during the months of September and October. Perhaps also in the spring of 2021, depending on the evolution of the pandemic,” says Huard.

In 2018-2019, the Université de Sherbrooke welcomed 2,648 international students from 102 countries and territories. Huard says it is unclear at this point how many of the 400 international students who were offered the opportunity to start with distance learning from their home country for the fall session will avail themselves of the offer, or postpone admission.

“We have a total of 31,727 students. On average, we welcome nearly 1,000 new foreign students per year. With the travel restrictions currently in place, unfortunately, we do not expect to receive many of them,” she says.

Bishop’s University indicates in-person classes will be held “in classrooms which will respect the physical distancing guidelines of the public health authorities.”


Jennifer Brown

Jennifer Brown is a journalist and communications professional with extensive experience creating engaging content internally and externally for various B2B and consumer audiences. As a journalist, she has written about and interviewed leaders in the health care, education, legal, enterprise technology and cannabis sectors.

3 thoughts on “Canada’s colleges and universities roll out fall pandemic plans”

  1. Hi Jennifer. This is such a great article. Is your article on the Fall 2021 update out? Can you please share the link. Thanks

  2. Is there an update coming soon? This is an amazing resource. I’d like to know about college plans in Quebec.

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