How faculties are planning for the fall term

UBC's announcement that the fall term will be primarily online is slowly being clarified as faculties individually release their plans to students.

Here’s what we know about how fall classes will look.


The faculty of arts sent an email in the afternoon on May 14, identifying which programs within arts will be online, and which will operate with some in-person classes and some online classes.

Students in the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in creative writing, Bachelor of International Economics and Bachelor of Media Studies programs will have online instruction.

“UBC students studying in [these] four programs … will not need to be on campus, in Vancouver or even in Canada for the fall semester,” the email says.

Other faculty of arts programs that “rely on location-specific facilities” will have some on-campus classes.

BFAs in acting, film production, theatre design and production and in visual arts, the Bachelor of Music and the Bachelor of Social Work all fall under this umbrella.

“Students in [these] six programs … will need to take in-person attendance components into consideration and can reach out to individual programs for more information,” the email says.


The faculty of science emailed students saying that a “full suite” of courses will be online. Labs requiring a physical presence will be held once the university returns to normal operations.

“You don’t have to be in Canada, British Columbia, or even Vancouver for first term to continue your degree with UBC Science,” reads the email.

The faculty will accommodate students in other time zones by offering recordings of live-streamed lectures.

A few students within commuting distance to campus may be able to access certain labs.


Dean of Forestry John Innes sent an email to students the evening of May 14 confirming that classes will be online.

“At this point, we fully anticipate that all of our undergraduate classes will be delivered online,” the email says.

Innes encouraged students to reach out to Student Services with any questions or concerns.


The Peter A. Allard School of Law sent an email to incoming students announcing that first-year courses will be mainly online. Subject to provincial health regulations, the school hopes to hold in-person sessions for small groups of students to meet their instructors.

“However, these in-person opportunities, should they occur, will not be mandatory and it will be possible for you to complete first-year remotely,” reads the email.

More face-to-face instruction will be available second winter semester. But regardless of how restrictions are loosened in 2021, online learning will still be available for students unable to attend in person.

Instruction will be split between real-time and pre-recorded sessions. The email says bursaries will be available for students who require technology upgrades, as well as those in rural communities in need of stable internet connections.

Incoming students wishing to withdraw must request to do so by June 15 to get their registration deposit refunded. They will not be able to defer their admission to 2021/22.

“We ordinarily grant only a small number of deferrals each year based on extenuating circumstances, and it is simply not possible to grant deferrals to everyone affected this year.”


Engineering undergraduate classes will be "100% online," Dean James Olsen wrote in an email to students on May 16.

"All lectures and tutorials will be online, and we are in the process of determining what that will look like, considering that many of you will be in different time zones," Olsen wrote. Small group activities built into courses will also be online.

Most labs will be online, but for the ones that are not able to be transferred to an online format, students will be able to make up the lab "at a later date."

Olsen wrote that the co-op program is working with students who have lost a position or have not yet found one, in order to make sure students "are not adversely affected."

Design teams will continue work online and mentorship programs will also be moving online.


Sauder School of Business courses will be delivered in a "fully online format," Dean Robert Helsley announced in an email to students on May 20.

"Your health and safety are our top priorities," Helsley wrote.

The email says that Sauder has made "new investments in virtual learning" in order to provide online instruction that is "high quality" and "engaging."

"I also want to assure you that we will return to in-person, on-campus learning as soon as it is safe to do so," Helsley wrote.

"We will notify you of the plan for the Winter Term 2 (January to April) as soon as we can."


On May 18, Dr. Robert Boushel, director of the school, announced that "all Fall term courses" will be delivered in an online format in a message to the community.

"We are already planning creative ways to meaningfully engage, inform and guide new and returning KIN students for the Fall term in the School of Kinesiology," Boushel wrote.

He also noted that as safety protocols are developed, the faculty of the school will gradually return to research labs.

"While the university experience will be somewhat different, our goal is to ensure that students and all members of the School are supported and feel collectively part of our unique and enduring KIN culture," Boushel wrote.

Land and Food Systems

On May 14, Zhaoming Xu, associate dean academic of land and food systems (LFS), sent an email to students informing them that classes for the fall term will be held online.

"The Faculty looked at many factors in determining the best delivery of courses and in weighing whether to go online versus in-person – your safety and wellbeing, adhering to physical distancing, direction from the Provincial Health Officer and other public health agencies, optimizing learning for both local and remote students, among others," the LFS website reads.

Students will not have to be in Vancouver to attend classes.

The faculty encourages students to register for both term one and term two, even as the status of term two is still uncertain.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information is available.