From growth to impact: Preparing the Integrated Enrolment Growth Plan

Enrolment growth is a key component of the university’s vision for the next decade.

Students walking around CCIS

The launch of Shape: The University Strategic Plan 2023-2033 set in motion a bold vision for enrolment growth at the University of Alberta. To meet the challenges of a growing population and rising demand, the U of A will expand enrolment by over 35 per cent to 60,000 students within the next decade. 

This may sound ambitious, and it is; growth at this scale represents a transformative opportunity for the university and is necessary for the long-term sustainability of the institution. Growth doesn’t just mean an increase in undergraduate students in classrooms; it includes graduate students in both thesis-based and course-based programs, lifelong learners and hybrid learners. It also means welcoming and engaging a growing number of international students, which creates a dynamic and global learning environment for all students. Ultimately, enrolment growth has the potential to make an even greater impact nationally and globally by proactively and intentionally creating a diverse community of learners across all programs, while allowing us to continue to serve communities locally. 

The first step is to chart a course with integrated enrolment growth planning. 

Understandably, achieving growth on this scale is complex and requires coordinated planning and a staged approach to secure resources and build our capacity to support and sustain increased enrolment. This includes proportionate investment in services, resources and infrastructure to support it, such as tangible investments in high-impact areas that support success for all students, both undergraduate and graduate. Enrolment growth must also align with other university strategic plans and initiatives, including Igniting Purpose: The Student Experience Action Plan, Braiding Past, Present and Future: University of Alberta Indigenous Strategic Plan, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, and more.

Beginning in fall 2023, the university established a strategic process to develop an Integrated Enrolment Growth Plan (IEGP) to best ensure that our growth is aligned with the university’s mission and organizational capacity. Through this planning process, various aspects and impacts of enrolment growth are being explored, including areas of investment, student access and experience, support services, faculty, staff and teaching resources, as well as the physical space and technology necessary to accommodate such growth.

This first phase of developing the IEGP is taking place until the end of May and involves exploration, analysis and risk mitigation through a representative governance structure consisting of a Steering Committee, an Oversight Committee and seven Areas of Focus Groups. These areas of focus include those that are ready for immediate action without additional government investment (Graduate, International Enrolment Growth and Domestic Enrolment Demand Generation) and those requiring longer-term proactive steps to enable us to grow (Advocacy, Distribution Planning, Accommodating Growth A - Education and Services, and Accommodating Growth B - IT and Infrastructure). 

Working from a transparent, data-informed approach, the Areas of Focus Groups will develop recommendation plans to operationalize and enable different aspects of the overall IEGP. Once the IEGP is drafted, it will be submitted to the President's Executive Committee - Strategic (PEC-S) in June for review and feedback. This will be followed by Phase Two of the planning process and will include community engagement and feedback.

In its final form, the IEGP will ensure the university has an in-depth, informed, viable and actionable road map to begin building a strong foundation to support our future growth goals.

Current pressures do not preclude the importance of strategic enrolment planning.

As you may have heard, the latest provincial budget didn’t include any new funding for domestic enrolment growth for any degree programs at Alberta’s universities beyond the amounts previously announced in the existing Targeted Enrolment Expansion program. However, with a rapidly growing population in Alberta and U of A applications up by eight per cent last year, we will continue to do all we can to advocate with the government to secure funding for future domestic enrolment expansion.

We’re also responding to recent federal changes to the immigration system for international students, which included a two-year cap on the number of initial study permits. Since these changes were announced, the Office of the Registrar’s Admissions staff has been working hard to process applications from international students, resulting in an increase in the number of offers to eligible students. Overall, we expect our international undergraduate enrolment to continue to grow.

Despite these external impacts on enrolment growth, it’s important we remain focused on our original goal and continue planning to mitigate risk through strategic enrolment management. This includes looking at areas of growth that are possible in the short term, particularly in revenue-generating, course-based master’s programs as well as international student enrolment. Opportunities and pressures will ebb and flow over the next decade, so we recognize that enrolment growth to 60,000 students is a long-term goal that needs to be supported by thoughtful planning and engagement.

We are open to your suggestions and feedback.

In the coming months, we will share further information about the development of the integrated enrolment growth plan (IEGP), including next steps in the process; I encourage you to visit the IEGP web page to learn more. If you have any questions, suggestions or other feedback you’d like to share, please contact me at

Melissa Padfield
Deputy Provost (Students and Enrolment)