Latest updates from UM

Updated July 21, 2020

June 17, 11 a.m.: A message from Dr. Janice Ristock, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), on Critical Course Information, Student Ratings of Instruction, Limited-Access Policy

Critical Course Information: 

For the Summer term instructors were asked to prepare a short statement on their course essentials, including technology requirements, so that students can select courses with a greater understanding of the expectations and needs of the course they are considering.   

For all Fall term offerings, we are asking all instructors to provide critical course information using a revised and abbreviated ‘Critical Course Information’ form.  The information will be included in the Syllabus Section of the Class Schedule and will be available to students as they select their courses.   Fall term offerings are posted on June 19th and the first cohort of students in Fort Garry programs will begin registration on July 13th.  Therefore, it is imperative that instructors submit their Critical Course Information as soon as possible but not later than July 2nd.    

Student Ratings of Instruction (SRI):    

On May 13, 2020 Senate approved a revised method for Student Ratings of Instruction (formerly SEEQs).  This SRI instrument will be used in the Summer term through UM Learn. The full SRI software system will be fully launched in the Fall term.   

Limited-Access Policy: 

As a reminder, Senate Executive approved that Section 2.5. (a) of the ‘Repeated Course’ policy be suspended indefinitely.  This section stipulates that any student who has voluntarily withdrawn from, or received a final grade in, a course is prevented from repeating the course for the immediately succeeding three consecutive terms.  The suspension of this policy will not disadvantage any student who withdraws or performs more poorly than hoped under the current exceptional learning conditions. 

As we progress through the Summer term and prepare for the Fall term, I want to thank all of you for your extraordinary efforts to ensure that students can successfully continue their studies.    

June 6, 4:00 p.m.: A message from Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, Vice-President (Administration)

Dear Colleagues,

We have successfully completed spring term, after the most significant disruptions in our history, and we are at a place now where we can make decisions for our 2020/21 budget. Though we continue to live in challenging and uncertain times, we have much to be proud of when we consider UM’s remarkable contributions to the success of our students, our province, and to global public health.  

Last week, President Barnard shared with you the details of our 2020/21 provincial operating grant. I encourage you to please read that message if you have not already. In light of these changes to our core funding as well as the many financial implications of the global pandemic, we are pursuing opportunities for cost saving measures while supporting the critical work we continue to do.

As part of these efforts, the President’s Executive Team will be participating in the Vacation Purchase Plan (VPP) by purchasing five days off. This means that we are each taking five days without pay, and spreading the cost of these days over the remainder of the fiscal year. Details of the program can be found here. Many staff throughout the university are already familiar with VPP and have participated, but the program has been expanded for this fiscal year in response to COVID-19. This year, as each unit pursues appropriate budget reductions, we are encouraging all who are eligible and willing to consider purchasing VPP days.  

The VPP program remains optional – no one will be required to participate and you must discuss with and receive approval from your supervisor about your plan.

Thank you again for your continued resilience, patience and support throughout this incredibly stressful time.

Lynn Zapshala-Kelln, B.Admin, CPA CGA
Vice-President (Administration)

May 28, 8:30 a.m.: A message from Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor, on operating grant

Throughout my twelve years as President of the University of Manitoba, I have continually been inspired by the resilience of this institution – the resilience of our faculty, staff and students. My time as President has seen research breakthroughs, innovative growth, apologies and progress, as well as challenges, disagreements and disruptions. Whatever we have faced, we have faced it together, united by our commitment to our mission, vision and values.  

In March, confronted with a global pandemic, we entered into perhaps the most challenging chapter of our story so far. The level of disruption to our work has been unprecedented, and the lack of clarity has caused angst and anxiety for our university community.  

A significant contributor to that uncertainty resulted from direction we received from the provincial government to find savings at our institution to support frontline services. This conversation began on April 14 with a request from the Province for all public sector institutions to present plans of immediate savings of 10, 20 and 30 per cent. This was a challenging exercise, but UM presented a plan to the Province as requested and waited for feedback.  

The period of uncertainty while we waited for clarification from our largest funder has been challenging. During that time, many units have moved forward with temporary staff reductions in response to work shortages and based on the expectation of a reduced operating grant. 

We respect that this has been a challenging time for everyone in Manitoba, including for our government. We have appreciated the frequent updates from Minister Eichler and Department officials as pieces of information have become available. We understand that the conversation has been evolving rapidly. We are thankful now to have additional information to share with our community on our 2020/21 operating grant. 

On Monday, May 25, 2020, the University of Manitoba received our annual operating grant letter from the Province of Manitoba confirming a five per cent reduction ($17.23 million) to our provincial operating grant funding. As I shared with you on May 13, we were expecting a permanent one per cent cut to our operating grant and a one-year cut of four per cent. The letter did not layout the reduction in this way; the letter speaks to our funding allocation for this year alone. Additionally, what we were not expecting was that the letter announced the creation of a one-time Transitional Support Fund to help offset the impact of these reductions. The Province has allowed for up to $17.23 million to the University of Manitoba through this fund with the requirement that we submit proposals to the Province for approval. The funding is available for specific purposes: to support costs associated with orienting programs towards labour-market demands, ensuring high quality education through new and enhanced online materials and tools, and/or addressing unanticipated changes in enrollment and other challenges due to coronavirus. The allocation is not guaranteed. 

What does this mean? Our guaranteed provincial operating grant for 2020/21 has been reduced by five per cent, however, the potential provincial operating grant available to us, with conditions, is equal to our 2019/20 operating grant. We have been asked to continue working with the Department of Economic Development and Training to provide proposals for the funds by September 15, 2020.  

Ultimately, this means that we do not have certainty on the total amount of operating grant funding we will receive from the Province in 2020/21. As well, we know the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in work disruptions, revenue losses, and increased costs. Going forward, we should expect that budget reductions will be required, and we will continue to review how best to address these challenges.  

The University of Manitoba appreciates ongoing investments in the critical work we do to support student success, recognizing that our commitments to excellence in teaching and research are crucial to Manitoba’s economic and social prosperity. Government and the University of Manitoba are aligned in our desire to ensure UM graduates are prepared to make robust contributions in our changing economy.  

Certainly, UM has already demonstrated our commitment to meet labour-market demands and we continue to advance industry-academia partnerships throughout the institution. Our faculty members, and our Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, have done an outstanding job creating new and enhanced online materials and are continuing to do so for the fall term. We know that a university education provides graduates with the problem-solving, leadership, communication and collaborative skills that best prepare them to lead and thrive in a post-covid world.  

As we work together to address the challenges presented to us by COVID-19, I am certain that our resilience will, once again, see us through and that we will continue to demonstrate our unmatched contributions to this province and its people.  



May 14, 2:00 p.m. - A message from Laurie M. Schnarr, Vice-Provost (Students) re: Fall Term, key dates

Dear students,

I hope you are well and enjoying the early days of spring, despite the unusual circumstances we are navigating together.

As many of you know, yesterday we announced the University’s plans for Fall Term. At the forefront of our considerations are the safety and well-being of the UM community, and our ongoing commitment to deliver an educational experience of the highest quality for our students. In keeping with public health and government directives, we will be offering the Fall Term primarily remotely, with the exception of a very small number of courses that require in-person delivery. Students will know in advance of registration which courses will be held in person, so you can make informed course selections.

While we are all disappointed that we will not be together in person in the Fall, please know that we are exploring every avenue to deliver a robust student experience virtually. We are working in collaboration with UMSU, UMGSA, teaching and learning experts, and the faculties to develop plans that promote student learning, engagement and academic success. This includes opportunities to connect with faculty, other students in your courses and programs; counselling, academic advising and career supports; clubs and much more. Stay tuned for further details as our plans evolve!

Here are some key dates to be aware of: 

  • June 15: Registration for Fall and Winter Terms opens for Bannatyne campus programs 
  • July 23: Registration for Fall & Winter Terms opens in Aurora for returning students  
  • September 9: Fall Term classes begin 
  • November 9-13: Fall Break Week
  • December 12-23: Fall Term exam period
  • January 5-15, 2021: critical in-person activities, such as labs, associated with some courses offered remotely from September through December 2020 will take place during this period
  • January 18, 2021: Winter Term 2021 classes begin

We understand that you will have many questions about the Fall Term, and we will do our best to answer those on our webpage here. If you still have questions, please direct those to an academic advisor in your home faculty/college/school. I will continue to keep you updated as decisions are made, including information about residences, access to campus buildings and facilities, textbooks, and more. As decisions are made, your health and safety and your academic success are our top priorities. We will continue to do all that we can to support you in this transition to remote learning; to ensure that you have opportunities to connect in meaningful ways; and to fully engage you in your learning experience. When the time is right and it is safe to do so, we will reopen buildings and resume in-person operations. We are eager to return to campus, as I know you are too!

All my best,


Laurie M. Schnarr, MA
Vice-Provost (Students)
Student Affairs
Office of the Provost and Vice-President (Academic)

May 13, 2 p.m.: A message from Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor, on changes to provincial operating grant

Throughout this challenging and uncertain time, I have committed to provide as much information as possible as soon as possible. I recognize and respect that the lack of clarity we have been dealing with as a community contributes to angst and anxiety during what is already a very difficult time in our world.

Today, I am sharing with you what we know right now. Though we continue to wait for written confirmation on provincial cuts to our operating grant, we have decided to share what we have been told by the Minister of Economic Development and Training, Ralph Eichler.

  • We understand that the provincial government will reduce UM’s 20/21 operating grant by 5 per cent or $17.3 million.
  • This includes a 1 per cent cut that we expect will be ongoing, and a 4 per cent reduction that we have been assured is for this year only.

We have already had to make some difficult decisions as we respond to work disruptions, revenue losses, and increased costs resulting from the global pandemic. We must continue to work together now to address additional pressures put on our budget as a result of this significant cut. The President’s Executive Team has been developing several budget scenarios to address this new reality, and we are committed to moving forward with a thoughtful, measured approach. Some of the tools we are considering include:

  • reducing discretionary spending,
  • hiring deferrals,
  • voluntary workweek reductions and
  • layoffs.

I continue to emphasise to government and our community that UM has always been and will continue to be central to Manitoba’s economic and social success. Post-secondary education will be crucial to the post-COVID-19 recovery, and our critical work continues as demand for post-secondary increases during these uncertain times. You, our faculty and staff, continue to do exceptional work in the midst of this pandemic and the challenging budget constraints.

It is at this point that we must remain focused on our shared mission and vision. Together, we support groundbreaking research, student success and impactful community engagement. Our critical work continues, despite disruption, and we must continue to collaborate and adjust if we are going to succeed in the face of these challenges.

As we move forward, I remain committed to share accurate and timely information with our community. Thank you for your ongoing commitment and resilience.



May 13, 1 p.m.: A message from Dr. Janice Ristock, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), on Fall Term 2020

I am writing today to provide information on Fall Term 2020.

I remain incredibly grateful to our faculty, staff and students for their ability to adjust to this unprecedented situation. Careful consideration and planning has gone into determining the best possible experience we can offer our students while supporting the health and safety of our community.

Though we are not able to return to a ‘normal’ Fall Term, I am pleased to share that:

  • The University of Manitoba will offer a robust Fall Term through remote learning with some in-person exceptions;
  • We will provide students with the preparation that they need to be successful in this remote learning environment;
  • We will commit to a safe return to campus when the time is right; and
  • We will ensure that our community’s health and safety are at the forefront of all of our decisions.

The University has approved a plan to deliver all possible courses for the Fall Term by remote learning. In rare cases, and with approval, some courses may be delivered in person. In these very exceptional circumstances, we will identify the protocols that need to be in place to accommodate these few exceptions. Students will know this in advance so that they can make informed course selections.

To help support these changes, Senate Executive has approved an extension of the Fall Term for optional in-person critical instruction as determined by Faculties for the period January 5 to 15, 2021. This will ensure that all students (local or international) will be able to begin and complete their studies without having to be physically present for the period of September to December 2020.

Important dates for you to know:

  • September 9: Fall Term classes begin
  • December 12 – 23: Fall Term exam period
  • January 5 – 15, 2021: Fall Term extension for critical in-person activities
  • January 18, 2021: Winter Term classes begin

We will continue to communicate further details with you, our students, and our community as efficiently as possible. Updates and answers to FAQs will continue to be posted on this page.

On behalf of President Barnard and the entire Presidential executive team, thank you! We sincerely appreciate the adjustments that faculty, students and staff have made to conclude the Winter Term, launch the Summer Term and prepare for Fall. Together, we realize that although it is different; the strength of our students, the resilience of our staff, and the passion of our instructors and faculty will carry us through.

Thank you,

May 11, 11:30 a.m.: Message from Dr. Janice Ristock, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), re: Fall Term, Winter Term academic schedule; employer support for hiring students

I am writing to provide you with an update regarding the revised 2020 Fall and 2021 Winter term academic schedules:  

Fall and Winter Term Academic Schedules: 

As we have discussed, based on current COVID-19 restrictions, you are advised to prepare to deliver all possible courses by remote learning.  To support this, on May 6th Senate Executive approved a revision to the Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 academic schedules.   

The Fall term will conclude with a period in early January 2021 (5th to 15th) during which essential in-person activities associated with courses offered in Fall term could be completed.  This may include critical in-person instruction and experience important for student safety and understanding as they proceed in their programs of study.  Use of this period by any Faculty is optional. 

As a result of this extended Fall term, the start of Winter term will be delayed by one week.   

Critical dates for Fall and Winter terms are as follows: 

Fall Term 2020  

-           September 9:  Classes start 

-           December 12 – 23:  Exam Period 

-           January 5 – 15, 2021:  Fall term extension for in-person activities   

 Winter Term 2021  

-       January 18:  Classes start 

-      April 19 – May 1:  Exam Period 

The proposal and revised academic schedule can be viewed here.   

On a different matter, career services has prepared an extensive list of employer wage subsidy and tax rebate programs.  These programs will support the hiring of a student for summer, co-op, or internship placements.  



Further resources

Information on COVID-19

For the most up-to-date information from the federal government:

For the most up-to-date provincial information: