fall semester canada
Here's an early look on how the fall semester will look like for international students in canada. Source: Dave Chan/AFP

From retailers to auto dealerships, Canada is gradually reopening after two months of lockdown. What can international students in Canada expect from their colleges and universities this fall semester?

The restarting of economies will depend on which province your university is located in. Here are the key information international students in Canada should know according to province:


When asked last week whether he would consider directing postsecondary institutions in the province to proceed exclusively with online learning this fall semester, Minister of Colleges and Universities Ross Romano did not give a definite answer.

He said, “We’re looking at a number of different options.”

After “very frequent conversations” with university presidents, the approach agreed on thus far is to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst”.

fall semester canada

International students in Canada can expect three scenarios for fall semester. Source: Cole Burston/AFP

International students in Canada can expect a hybrid model — blending virtual and in-person classes — as the best-case scenario in this province.

For certain programmes that require hands-on or lab-based learning, proposed models for in-person instruction will be sent to the province’s chief medical officer for feedback.

Canada’s most populous province is in the midst of the first of its three-stage reopening of its economy. Retail stores can now open; construction projects and some park amenities can resume too.

These universities will be fully online: Carleton University, Huron University College.

Universities mixing online and in-person classes include Conestoga College, Durham College, Fanshawe College, Fleming College, King’s University College, Nipissing University, Ryerson University, Saint Paul University, St Lawrence College, University of Ottawa, University of Toronto, University of Waterloo, University of Windsor, Western University, Wilfrid Laurier University, York University


International students in Canada’s largest province by area can expect to be back in school by fall semester.

A working paper obtained by the Montreal Gazette revealed students “of all education levels” are anticipated to return to classrooms in September.

Premier François Legault affirmed this last Thursday, saying “Given where we are at in the pandemic, if we respect the rules, I think there’s a good chance all students will be able to physically be present in school, CEGEP and university when back to school happens in September. It’s what we should aim for,” he said.

Reports by Le Devoir and La Presse earlier this week, however, stated that Quebec’s provincial government has requested postsecondary schools to get at least 30% of students back on campus.

fall semester canada

Provinces are gradually letting businesses and services resume. Source: Sebastien St-Jean/AFP

Institutions are preparing for three possible scenarios for the fall term: a full return to pre-crisis class sizes and formats; a hybrid model with 50% of the student body on campus; and a  hybrid model with 30-35% of students on campus at once.

Université du Quebec à Chicoutimi and Université du Québec à Montréal are institutions that have announced it will be going fully online.

Whereas Concordia University, Dawson College, McGill University, Université de Montréal, and  Université Laval have mixed delivery plans.

Nova Scotia

Mount Saint Vincent University “will shift to online course delivery for the fall 2020 semester”. The university is in the midst of deciding how on-campus operations — e.g. residence, library, art gallery, fitness centre, registrar’s office, staff and faculty offices and more — will resume based on the latest public health advice. Cape Breton University and University of King’s College will be fully online too.

Bucking the trend, St Francis Xavier University is reportedly going for in-person delivery. In September 2020, classes will resume “on-campus and in person.” A task force on Remote Teaching and Learning (Online) Preparedness is monitoring the virus crisis to see if programming should be delivered online.

Taking the middle road is Dalhousie University, where fall courses will begin online with in-person classes resuming in January 2021.


Manitoba is now easing some restrictions and on an economic recovery route through the restoration of some services.

This includes Assiniboine Community College and University of Manitoba, which have announced they will be using blended delivery models when they resume in September. The latter will offer a “robust Fall Term through remote learning with some in-person exceptions”.

New Brunswick

The province’s phased recovery plan aims to get businesses and organisations resuming their activities in “a rapid yet safe manner”.

Mount Allison University has “a phased approach to returning to campus” which involves a blend of on-campus classes and “online/alternate delivery” this fall semester.

Red River College and University College of the North (UCN) will go fully online. At UCN, face to face courses will not resume “unless absolutely required”.

British Columbia

BC has the lowest mortality of any jurisdiction in Canada. Its Restart Plan consists of four phases and outlines which businesses are able to open and when. It is currently in phase two. Phase three will run from June to September.

The University of British Columbia “will primarily offer larger classes online with selected smaller classes conducted in-person, adhering to physical distancing and other public health requirements”.

Simon Fraser University will deliver in-person teaching for courses where learning objectives cannot be achieved virtually. Most courses will continue remotely.

The hybrid mode will be in place at British Columbia Institute of Technology, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, North Island College, Simon Fraser University, Trinity Western University, University of Victoria, Vancouver Island University

Others like the University of Victoria and the University of Northern British Columbia will offer courses predominantly online.

As for Royal Roads University, it will conduct all programmes, courses, and residences online until Dec. 31, 2020. Other universities going fully online include University of the Fraser Valley and Camosun College.

Prince Edward Island

Holland College’s website states: “Face to face delivery for practical components will follow the guidelines set by the province’s Chief Public Health Officer”. The goal will be to return to campus for the winter semester.

Students at the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) will take part in a blended delivery of courses. Every students will have online and in-person access to instructors, faculty advisors, librarians as well as facilities such as Robertson Library (and resources), academic help centres, UPEI Health and Wellness Centre and UPEI Student Affairs.


The current plan for the University of Regina is to offer its courses online in September.

The University of Saskatchewan will similarly be providing primarily remote online learning, according to a CBC article on May 12. There will be limited classroom, laboratory, clinical, and physical instruction “where warranted and where circumstances permit”.

fall semester canada

The Saskatchewan’s universities like the University of Regina are planning for remote learning this fall.  Source: Dan Loran/Unsplash

Parkland College has announced plans for a blend of face-to-face and online learning.


For the University of Alberta, the majority of classes will run virtually. Where possible, it would provide small groups of face-to-face learning, such as labs and clinical instruction where they are essential.

Priority will be given to these classes at the University of Calgary too. It is aiming for “approximately 30% of our students on each of our campuses at any one time”; most classes will run remotely.

Universities going fully online include NAIT and Red Deer College

As for Concordia University of Edmonton, Lethbridge College, Mount Royal University, Portage College, University of Calgary, University of Lethbridge, these institution will offer a mix of virtual and in-person instruction.

Newfoundland and Labrador

There will be no in-person, on-campus courses before January 2021 at Memorial University.

College of the North Atlantic will combine online and in-person classes, the latter will be reserved for classes with practical elements.

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