University of Alberta International Report 2020-22

Resiliency and adaptation during a challenging period.

2020-22 were two of the most unprecedented years encountered by University of Alberta International (UAI). The rapid arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 became the defining challenge - which we met with dedication and innovation.

At UAI we dedicated ourselves to support the University during this transition time; pivoting and adapting to the new circumstances. This was done through collaboration with both internal and external partners, and we are grateful for their continued support. 

This report will show how UAI, during the 2020-22 years:

  • Launched the UAI Strategy 2020-2024 in May 2020
  • Proved that the U of A continues to be a top choice for international students.
  • Helped students travel safely.
  • Helped students engage in global learning without travel.
  • Supported international students as they navigated the new environment created by COVID-19.
  • Connected virtually with partners and found new ways to engage.
  • Worked with partners to showcase the U of A’s efforts at advancing the SDGs.

As the world continues to shift, UAI will support and facilitate internationalization at the U of A. 

- Dr. Cen Huang, Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (International)

Expanding horizons for a better world.
University of Alberta International Vision Statement

International Student Recruitment

UAI proved that the University of Alberta continues to be a top choice for international students. In Fall 2021 there were 8,216 international students at the U of A, representing 14.1% of undergraduate enrolment and 39.3% of graduate enrolment. Creative enrolment management strategies were implemented to support international undergraduate student yields for Fall 2020 and Fall 2021.



Undergraduate Applications






New Registered Students



Admission Rate



Application to Registration Rate


Growth in diversity students from 2019 to 2021

Walterdale Bridge at Sunset

Connecting Future Students with Current Students

Our new Unibuddy platform allows prospective international students to connect and chat with current students. To date thousands of conversations have taken place with prospects from over 110 different countries.

Prospective Student Outreach

Recognizing the importance of international undergraduate students to the University of Alberta, UAI responded to these two unusual years with adaptive and innovative engagement strategies.

Virtually Engaged

We leveraged digital recruitment tools to pivot to entirely online recruitment cycles for Fall 2021 and Fall 2022. UAI staff participated in over 300 online recruitment activities including 11 events in which we engaged 13 faculty members to deliver presentations on their areas of expertise to prospective students around the world.

Recruitment Publications

UAI produces and distributes an International Undergraduate Viewbook, Graduate Brochure, Undergraduate Brochure, and Mandarin-Language Undergraduate Brochure worldwide.

eMail Marketing

Over 500,000 email interactions took place with prospective international U of A students. Innovative drip-marketing campaigns support prospective student and applicant engagement throughout the recruitment cycle.

Shandong University Program

This program provided first year Chinese students with the opportunity to study U of A online courses while also participating in Shandong University courses in person. It was an attractive opportunity for students unable to travel to Canada during the pandemic.

Downtown Edmonton at night featuring the Alberta Art Gallert

International Relations

We connected virtually with partners and found new ways to engage.

Facilitated Key Institutional Partnerships and Programs

  • Agreements with Beijing Sport University (BSU) to establish the BSU Alberta International School of Recreation, Sport and Tourism [KSR]
  • Agreements with Wenzhou Medical University to establish the Alberta Institute, Wenzhou Medical University [FoMD]
  • Renewal of the collaboration agreement with Tsinghua University on U of A-Tsinghua Joint Research Centre on Future Energy and Environment
  • Agreements with East China Normal University (ECNU) for an undergraduate articulation program and a Study Together Program [ALES]
  • Joint Doctoral Degree Program agreement with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras
  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Ireland Canada University Foundation for a visiting instructor
  • Seed Grant Program Agreement for Joint Research Projects with Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • Sponsored Student Agreement with COLFUTURO (Colombia)
  • Sponsored Student Agreement with the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam
  • Renewal of agreement with Latin America’s top academic institution, the University of Sao Paulo, for a dual graduate degree program in pharmacy.
  • 30 student mobility agreements with partners around the world.

Promoting International Partnerships

Facilitated over 40 virtual partnership webinars, with current and potential partner institutions in Peru, Mexico, USA, France, Belgium, Germany, UK, Ghana, India, and China, and with organizations such as Fulbright Canada, IT Baja, World Energy Universities Network, the Shastri Indo-Canadian Institute, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, and the Germany Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

IIT Joint Doctoral Degree Programs

In Winter 2021, a Joint Doctoral Degree Program (JDP) agreement was signed with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, making it the 4th participating IIT in the program – the only one of its kind in Canada. In Fall 2021, the first cohort of JDP students from IIT Bombay, IIT Kharagpur and IIT Roorkee arrived in Edmonton.

Remote Capacity Building

Professors from Augustana and the Faculty of Arts were active in participating remotely in small-scale, capacity-development projects funded by Academics Without Borders to support the creation of online educational resources and curriculum development in universities in Eswatini and Ghana.

International Agreements in 2020-22




Participating Institutions









THE Impact Rankings

UAI worked with the Sustainability Council to gather and present data for the university’s submissions to the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings in 2020 and 2021. This ranking assesses the economic and social impact of universities using metrics based on the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). U of A’s inaugural entry led to a rank of 64th in the world in April 2021.

In summer/fall 2021, UAI and the Sustainability Council undertook an in-depth analysis of our performance on the THE Impact Rankings, and then led a campus-wide initiative to improve the U of A’s scores across a wide range of criteria in our submission for the next ranking assessment in November 2021, which led to a jump in our ranking to #11 in the world in April 2022.

Webinar Series

UAI coordinated a wide range of webinars with stakeholders across campus and international partners throughout the 20-22 years. Our two signature series were the North American Energy Dialogue and Diversity in Diplomacy. Other notable webinars included A Celebration of Asian Heritage at the U of A for Asian Heritage Month 2021, organized together with U of A's Association of Chinese Canadian Professors and Engage India: Association of Professors.

North American Energy Dialogue

The North American Energy Policy webinar series is organized by the U of A, University of Texas at Austin, and Tecnologico de Monterrey, and features speakers from Canada, the USA, and Mexico. The three universities are uniquely positioned to create a platform that enables discussion and analysis on energy policy, through a North American perspective. These webinars include insights from experts in government, academia, industry, and think tanks from the three countries.

Diversity in Diplomacy

The Diversity in Diplomacy series was jointly organized by the University of Alberta’s Intersections of Gender Signature Area, the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, and UAl. In moderated online conversations, heads of diplomatic missions, such as Canadian and foreign ambassadors, high commissioners, and consuls general, were invited to reflect on their practice of foreign policy and diplomacy with a view on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) in the diplomatic service.

317 graduate, 24 undergraduate students from 81 sponsors in 46 different countries.
Sponsored international student registrations for the 2021-22 year

Supporting U of A Students

In March 2020 international travel quickly became restricted as borders were closed to prevent the spread of Covid-19. With many U of A students abroad, UAI staff worked tirelessly to support them on their journey home. Learn more about how UAI supports safety and security abroad for the U of A.

138 U of A Students Abroad in March 2020

24/7 UAI staff provided round-the-clock support

Here for International Students

We supported international students as they navigated the new environment created by COVID-19. 

Language and Connection

The English Conversation Club (ECC) and English Reading Club (ERC) offer the opportunity to practice language skills for international students at the U of A. Every week a variety of topics expands perspectives and promotes intercultural exchange. Over 550 students participated in these programs over the two-year period, with an average of 20 students participating weekly in the ECC, and 11 weekly in the ERC.

Remote Delivery

Services for international students were shifted online. Students appreciated the creation of virtual drop-in advising and during 20-22 over 34,300 interactions were facilitated, with more than 85% of student inquiries related to immigration. UofA+, an introductory academic skills program, delivered online for 20-22, helped 230 undergraduate students enhance their oral presentation skills and their understanding of critical thinking.

Online Orientation

UAI offers an 8-module, pre-departure, online orientation for all incoming international students. The program provides helpful information about details of life in Canada, study permits, health insurance, and thriving at the U of A.
Over the 2020-22 years, 2922 students participated.


UAI collaborated with the U of A Career Centre to offer programming to enhance international student graduate employment outcomes. There were 1068 participants in 21 workshops in 20-22. In 2021-2022, 17 undergraduate students were hired across campus through the International Student Work Experience Program (ISWEP). Over $57,900 in wage subsidies were disbursed to campus employers to provide employment opportunities.


The Transitions program provides a 3-day formal welcome/orientation program in August for students starting in Fall, and a 1-day program in January for students starting in Winter. Over the 20-22 period, UAI welcomed 1,632 in one to one peer-delivered campus check-in service and 1,553 students to virtual Transitions Orientation. Staff presented 48 virtual sessions to students and the campus community on student issues (including immigration) and services and programs for international students.

Helping Students with their Taxes

UAI offered virtual tax clinics in 2020 and 2021 that included online videos with more than 9,000 unique viewers, as well as 2,265 one-on-one sessions with international students to help them file their taxes.


Supporting students in travelling safely to the U of A.

The Off Campus Isolation and Travel Registry was developed to assist U of A students in travelling from their home country to Canada. Through UAI’s effort, 4323 international students were supported to come to campus (by 31 March 2022). Supports included approval of quarantine plans, regular meetings with students during quarantine, post quarantine support such as guidance on obtaining vaccinations, and facilitating students’ access to quarantine support grants. UAI staff answered over 11,400 student emails and delivered 6,889 advising hours to support incoming students.

Global Learning Opportunities for U of A Students

Global Learning Without Travel

With the onset of the pandemic, global learning without travel became a critical way for students to continue their international education. UAI played an integral role by offering a variety of options ranging from online internships and virtual courses/programs (hosted by key partners) to facilitating connections with different cultures both locally and abroad. It has underlined the fact that meaningful international experiences can still occur without leaving Canada, and has opened new possibilities for those who may not be able to travel but would still like the opportunity to participate.

COIL: Collaborative Online International Learning

The WeCANvirtuOWL project brought together teaching faculty from the University of Alberta with colleagues at Bielefeld University, Paderborn University and the Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences in Germany to offer courses that included Collaborative Online International Learning components (also known as COIL). The purpose was to provide a new international experience for students) while fostering new connections between faculty at the participating institutions. In total, eight projects involving UAlberta professors from the Faculties of Arts, Education, Engineering, Nursing and Science were created.

Online Multicultural Learning Pods

The Multicultural Learning Pods program connects students enrolled in the Certificate in International Learning (CIL) with one another and with UAlberta international students, visiting students, and students from our international partner institutions. These pods meet regularly to have semi-structured discussions and to engage in collaborative activities that encourage cultural exchange. There were 25 pods with 99 participating students in 2020-22.

Online Intercultural Training Modules

The Intercultural Relations program moved to an online format for students in the Certificate in International Learning. Course material brings complex theory to life through reflective practices. The 6 asynchronous modules and 2 synchronous sessions include culture learning strategies, culture as a living process, the plurality of identity, communicating across differences, culture stress and resilience, and expanding the ways we can see the world through transformative learning.

Funding for Students to Go Abroad

UAI secured $1m from the Global Skills Opportunity Fund for 2 projects. The first will support Indigenous students' participation in education abroad opportunities and the second will provide students in financial need with funding to advance their knowledge of the SDGs through international experiences.

Canada Learning Initiative in China (CLIC)

Thirty four past CLIC participants were featured in a collection of alumni stories, highlighting the impact of their experience studying in China. The book was launched by President Flanagan together with the H.E. Dominic Barton, Ambassador of Canada to the People’s Republic of China and H.E. Peiwu Cong, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Canada.

EXT 300: Education Abroad - Global Perspectives

EXT 300 is a 3-credit online course that U of A students can take during their education abroad experience to explore intercultural communication, in order to enhance their intercultural learning.

728 students enrolled in EXT 300 in 20-22.

Virtual internships and Summer Programs

Over the past two years, 50 students participated in virtual internships, and 126 students participated in virtual/remote summer programs offered by our international partner institutions.

Global Education

Certificate in International Learning

174 students completed the CIL in 2020-22, bringing the total number of CIL alumni to 496.The CIL is run by UAI in partnership with the Faculty of Arts and has grown to be one of the most popular certificate programs on campus. CIL students complete courses with global content and engage in intercultural experiential learning. They also develop global leadership skills through second language study, intercultural communication training and/or participation in co-curricular programs and events.

World's Challenge Challenge

In 2020-21 and 2021-22
20 teams entered 12 events, 268 attended

The U of A team, Fentagone, placed first at the 2021 World's Challenge Challenge global finals at Western University. This is the first time a U of A team has won the global finals. The team was awarded $30,000 towards their project. Fentagone also won the Telus Innovation Challenge, which had a first place prize of $100,000. The team's idea focused on developing a 1mL syringe that allows users to gain feedback on whether the drug in use contains fentanyl.

International House

International House, a joint project between UAI and Residence Services, is home to 154 student residents. UAlberta International develops and delivers programs focused on intercultural and global leadership competencies and trains and mentors the student leadership team. In 2020-22, International House residents engaged in 72 events with a total attendance of 1246 students.

International Week

UAI launched the first all-online International Week (I-Week) in 2021, which hosted events on a virtual platform. A key benefit of the online programming was featuring speakers from across Canada and around the world, and this format was continued in 2022. The Global Goals Talks, a series of short talks on each of the Sustainable Development Goals, included speakers from partners including: Aga Khan University, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, RWTH Aachen, and U of Auckland (a WUN member). In addition to lectures, there were workshops that enabled young people to connect with one another, a SDG scavenger hunt, a dance workshop, an art competition, and a night of stand-up comedy.


Canada-Pacific Alliance Scholarship Program

In February 2022, UAI successfully completed a 5-year, $2.5M project funded by Global Affairs Canada which provided over 130 scholarships to students and trainees from the Pacific Alliance nations (Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru) to undertake short term training courses or professional Master’s programs offered by Canadian universities in topics related to the sustainable development and management of extractive resource industries. Each scholarship also included registration in an online, asynchronous training course developed at U of A on the topic of Gender Considerations in Extractive Sector Management in Latin America. The scholars were all public sector employees who used the learning experience to reflect on practices in their countries, and who committed to sharing their new knowledge with their organizations in order to improve sustainable extractive sector management for the wellbeing of communities, the environment, and the economy in their homelands. Due to the pandemic, UAI worked with Canadian universities to facilitate online delivery of short courses, which allowed more trainees from the Pacific Alliance countries to participate during a period of international travel restrictions.