New U of A plan calls for enrolment to grow by 16K more students by 2030


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The University of Alberta is seeking to grow its enrolment by 35 per cent, while also targeting a top-50 ranking among worldwide research universities, according to its new 10-year strategic plan unveiled Tuesday.

The plan, titled Shape, sets out the school’s priorities for the next decade with school president and vice-chancellor Bill Flanagan claiming it will “propel the University of Alberta to greater heights than ever before.”

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“We will shape futures by educating with purpose, shape ideas by being purposeful in our research, and shape trust by engaging meaningfully with our communities, our partners, and our people.”

  1. Bill Flanagan, president and vice-chancellor at the University of Alberta, speaks on Tuesday, Sept, 12, 2023, about the  U of A and Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute launch of  Artificial Intelligence Everywhere, a new course accessible to all U of A undergraduates. Registration is open now and the course will begin in January.

    First-in-Canada AI education offered to all University of Alberta undergrads

  2. University of Alberta students protest against proposed tuition increases outside a Board of Governors meeting at University Hall in Edmonton, Friday March 24, 2023. Photo by David Bloom

    ‘Fund the future’: University of Alberta raises tuition despite student protest

The plan describes the potential “impact” of the school, its research, and its graduates as its “north star.”

“By 2033 we will be known as a university with transformational impact,” it reads.

Flanagan stated the plan followed community feedback that sought “more priority on areas of greater research strength.”

Enrolment increase

The plan’s enrolment target, if reached, would grow the number of students to 60,000 within the next seven years.

The number of students would grow from the current headcount of about 44,000 up to 50,000 by 2026, and then up to 60,000 by 2030.

The school notes such expansion is “contingent on provincial funding support.”

It also includes a growing number of international students, more than half of whom the university believes will remain in the province after graduating.

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Flanagan said the school will focus on increasing annual research funding to more than $650 million by 2028 and that it will “invest in a similar level of strategic growth in our faculty complement” to reflect the planned enrolment increases.

Apart from a top-50 global ranking, the plan also calls for the U of A to be ranked among the top three universities in Canada within the next decade.

Currently, the U of A is ranked seventh for impact by the Times Higher Education, behind Queen’s and Arizona State University, but ahead of Western University and the University of Victoria.

For reputation, however, the U of A ranked between 126th and 150th worldwide.

Macleans magazine’s annual university rankings put the U of A fifth among Canadian medical doctoral universities, those home to a medical school as well as a broad range of PhD programs.

Areas of priority

The plan stresses three “priority research areas” of energy and environment, artificial intelligence, and health and wellness.

It also identified three areas where it believes the U of A is making major contributions with potential for global impact: Indigenous research, agriculture and food, and social transformation.

Provost and interim vice-president academic Verna Yiu said the plan will give the school along with its student and faculty a more practical focus.

“To make lasting, meaningful impacts on people’s lives, we must take intentional steps to support the people of our university and create a culture where everyone can achieve their full potential.”