canadian universities
McGill University is among the Canadian universities that are planning to return to in-person teaching beginning in fall 2021. Source: AFP

Canada’s borders have remained open to international students since last October, so long as their designated learning institution (DLI) has a government-approved COVID-19 readiness plan in place. This has played a role in bolstering the country’s attractiveness among students compared to countries with stricter border controls, such as Australia. 

With vaccines being rolled out in the country, Canadian universities are hoping to resume in-person classes this fall. These are some Canadian universities that have plans for on-campus learning: 

British Columbia

Many universities in BC are expected to make plans to resume in-person learning in September following BC’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s statement advising institutions to welcome students back to campus this fall.

Following this, Trinity Western University, the University of British Columbia, the University of VictoriaSimon Fraser UniversityVancouver Island University,  Thompson Rivers University, the University of Northern British Columbia, and Capilano University have made announcements about their preparation for a full return to on-campus education this September. 

TWU said it is actively planning for a return to face-to-face instruction and activities in fall 2021. The university said it “will continue to follow regulations and parameters set by the BC Provincial Health Office and local health authorities, following the specific guidance for BC Post-Secondary Institutions, to determine appropriate in-person approaches and capacity”.

UBC president and vice-chancellor Santa J. Ono confirmed in a statement that “UBC is planning for a return to on-campus activity for Winter Session, Term 1, in September.” Ono stressed that the health and wellbeing of the UBC community remain their first priority. 

“As such, we are embarking on further planning, in collaboration with public health, to accommodate more on-campus activities. This includes transit planning; quarantine arrangements for international students (if required); options for on-site immunisation; and the availability of study spaces.”

canadian universities

Many other Canadian universities are still deciding whether it is safe to resume in-person learning. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP


The University of Alberta said a “complete return to normal from the COVID-19 crisis is unlikely by September,” adding that they plan to “welcome a significantly increased number of our university community members back to our campuses this autumn”.

They expect to continue with a combination of in-person and remote course delivery, with increased in-person and blended learning that takes full advantage of classroom spaces across their campuses. “Academic planners, faculty organisers, and instructors are currently working with campus health and safety experts to assess all classroom, lab, studio, research, work-integrated learning opportunities, and student service possibilities for the fall,” it said. 

The University of Lethbridge announced last month that it is “planning for a significant return to campus for the fall 2021 semester.”


The University of Toronto announced early this month that they “are looking forward to returning to in-person learning and on-campus activity this fall“. 

The University of Ottawa said an increased number of courses is expected to be delivered in person or using blended formats. “Currently, only a limited number of courses are being offered in-person, due to current health measures,” it said. Similarly, the University of Windsor is planning a mix of face-to-face, hybrid, and online courses this fall.

Brock University also has plans to return to on-campus learning in the fall, with classes offered primarily on campus and residence, dining and campus life services returning to normal operations. Western University is also planning to return to in-person classes this September.


In-person teaching will resume at McGill University in fall 2021.

New Brunswick

St. Thomas University is expected to offer a hybrid format of both in-person and online learning this fall 2021, but the university will make a final announcement between May and June.

canadian universities

Some Canadian universities have announced that courses will be offered in a hybrid format. Source: Daniel Slim/AFP


The University of Saskatchewan president and vice-chancellor Peter Stoicheff said he is “confident we will see a significant increase to in-person, on-campus instruction for fall 2021″. “Due to current uncertainties around vaccine roll-out in this province and beyond, we cannot at this stage say exactly what the proportion of face-to-face versus remote programme delivery will be in the fall term,” he said. 

With the increasing number of vaccinations and health and safety measures in the province, such as mask-wearing, physical distancing, and restrictions on the size of gatherings, they anticipate having more of their student residences open by fall and many of their other services and facilities operating to the fullest extent possible.

Nova Scotia

Acadia University announced plans for a full return to campus for fall 2021, while Mount Saint Vincent University said they are planning to offer a significant increase in on-campus learning opportunities in fall 2021. “While our intent is to return to in-person classes to the greatest extent possible, we appreciate that some students will need or want to continue to learn online,” they said, adding that “we will continue to provide opportunities to learn online.”

Prince Edward Island

The University of Prince Edward Island announced it is planning a return to a “more normal” academic experience in fall 2021. In-person teaching, learning, and research activities have already resumed at UPEI, effective March 4. Many Canadian universities are continually updating their websites based on information from official government sources, so it is best to check your respective university platforms for updates.