Ontario Welcomes Postsecondary Students Back to School

Fall Re-Opening Plan Prioritizes Health and Safety of Students, Faculty and Staff

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in consultation with the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has been working with the postsecondary sector to help ensure the health and safety of students, faculty and staff as institutions re-open for the fall term.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak the government has partnered with postsecondary institutions to help establish best practices for in person teaching. This includes COVID-19 testing for students who are in quarantine as a result of travel outside of Canada immediately before classes start. The province is also helping the postsecondary sector meet federal requirements for international students, including ensuring that quarantine and outbreak management plans are in place.

“Postsecondary institutions have carefully considered and developed plans to welcome students this fall, delivering programs in-class, online, and through hybrid models,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Colleges and Universities. “We have heard from our postsecondary partners about the challenges and opportunities involved with a safe return to campus, and we are building on the experience of the limited in-class summer reopening pilot programs. I want to thank our postsecondary institutions for their efforts to ensure all the necessary health and safety measures are in place for the fall.”

In addition to working with the postsecondary sector on the safe re-opening of the fall term, the province also conducted extensive consultations throughout the summer on the future of higher education in Ontario. Discussions focused on key initiatives such as digital learning, international students, micro-credentials, research and commercialization and financial sustainability.

“Ontario’s postsecondary sector has bold ideas on how to adapt postsecondary education and training to meet the needs of a rapidly changing job market and economy, and to fuel the future prosperity of the province,” said Minister Romano. “We have strong leaders in our postsecondary system, and I value their insight and perspective as we plan our next steps. We have a shared vision to build on the talent and skills of our students and graduates to drive Ontario’s economic recovery.”

To support postsecondary excellence and accountability, Ontario remains committed to moving ahead with performance-based funding. In response to COVID-19, the government is delaying the activation of performance-based funding for up to two years to provide financial stability and predictability to Ontario’s publicly funded colleges and universities.

Quick Facts

  • Over 15,000 students took part in the summer reopening pilot program that allowed “academically stranded” students to complete outstanding credits by returning to campus.
  • In 2018-19, more than 800,000 students enrolled in Ontario’s colleges, universities, Indigenous Institutes and private career colleges located in every region of the province.
  • On August 26, 2020, the federal government announced important new measures on post-graduation work permit eligibility for international students beginning programs online. In fall 2019, approximately 169,500 full-time international students attended publicly-assisted colleges and universities. An additional 50,000 international students attended private career colleges or private language schools.
  • To support OSAP borrowers, on March 25, 2020, the government also announced a temporary deferral of OSAP loan payments and interest accrual. Coupled with the second year of a province-wide tuition freeze, Ontario is easing the financial burden on students and making postsecondary education more affordable.
  • The government recently announced 35 projects on preventing, detecting, and managing COVID-19 through Ontario’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund.


“We’re grateful for the support we have received from Minister Romano and the government as we developed plans to protect the health of our students, faculty and staff. Colleges will deliver high-quality programs to students in a safe learning environment, whether those students are learning online or on campus. They will acquire the professional expertise that leads to rewarding careers and will help drive Ontario’s economic recovery.”

– Linda Franklin
President and CEO, Colleges Ontario

“Ontario’s universities look forward to welcoming new and returning students. While the experience will look different this year, universities remain committed to providing students with a safe, enriching, high quality educational experience. By working together, we can support the academic success of our students, continue to foster innovative research and ideas and help strengthen Ontario’s competitive economy and recovery – creating a better future for our students, communities and the province.”

– David Lindsay
President and CEO, Council of Ontario Universities

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
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Isabelle Foley

As Director of Member Success I strive to help members connect and get the most out of their chamber membership. I am an advocate for local businesses and passionate about spotlighting our community's success. Join the growth!


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