Mid-Point Review

Waterloo’s 2013-2018 Strategic Plan, A Distinguished Past – A Distinctive Future, was developed with an over-arching goal: to be recognized as one of the world’s top innovation universities.

Through broad consultation and engagement, the Strategic Plan identified eight themes to drive action towards achieving this goal. They build on the University’s foundational pillars of academic and research excellence, co-operative education, entrepreneurship, graduate studies, and internationalization.

With leadership from the President, Provost, Waterloo’s six Faculties and academic support units were integral to achieving the 2013-2018 Strategic Plan. Action plans, linked to goals and objectives, provided a roadmap for implementation of the plan.

A comprehensive accountability framework helped to monitor progress, identify opportunities for realignment and refocusing, and to support Waterloo’s commitment to transparency. An internal governance update, produced in the fall of every year along with a publicly available website, illustrated our progress and outcomes in each of the theme areas. In 2018, a final summative report was prepared, summarizing progress and outcomes the universities made over the five years of the plan.

As part of our accountability to the stakeholders, this Mid-point Review provided a high level overview of the progress almost three years into the implementation of the Strategic Plan.

Increasing and maintaining our strengths


  • 3% increase in undergraduate enrolment to almost 30,000 students, and 2% increase in graduate enrolment to just over 4,100 students
  • Over 58% of undergraduate students had an entering average of 90%+ (48% in 2013)
  • Waterloo students received 106 NSERC graduate awards, a 6% increase since 2013
  • 70% of incoming students chose Waterloo because of its co-op program (66% in 2013)
  • Almost 75% of incoming students enrolled in the co-op program (69% in 2013)
  • Over 1,500 new co-op employers, a 20% increase
  • Co-op student employment rate remains high at over 97%, above the 95% target


  • Total sponsored research steady at $183M despite constrained funding environment
  • Proportion of funding from partnerships with industry steady around 30%
  • Over 6% increase in full-time faculty with 147 new hires since 2013
  • 9th among Canadian U15 institutions for proportion of cited publications in the top 10%


  • Enrolment in fully online courses increased 13% since 2013 to almost 41,900
  • 14 new or significantly restructured programs: 4 undergraduate and
    10 graduate
  • 161 new student and recent alumni ventures were created in 2015, a 40% increase since 2013

Our global reach

  • 34 Strategic partnerships with QS Top 100 ranked institutions worldwide (26 in 2013)
    • Joint degree programs and co-tutelle with:
      • Warwick
      • Mannheim
      • Taiwan (NCTU)
      • National Tsinghua University
      • Taiwan (NTHU)
      • HKUST
    • Joint research projects with:
      • Technion
      • Bordeaux
      • Harvard
      • IIT Bombay
      • University College London
  • Top 5 among Canadian universities for the number of Top 100 QS subjects: 11 in 2015, an increase of 4 over 2013
  • Waterloo has the 2nd highest overall volume of international students in Ontario
  • Over 3,300 international student experiences in 2015
  • Over 16,000 alumni living internationally in 148 countries

Supporting our goal

  • Almost 800,000 square feet added or repurposed
    • Almost 500,000 sq ft of teaching, learning and collaboration space in Faculties
    • 6,000 sq ft of entrepreneurship space
    • 10,000 sq ft of study space
    • Almost 65,000 sq ft of recreation and athletics space
    • Over 200,000 sq ft of student services space
  • 23% of Waterloo’s employees participating in Excellence Canada
  • Between June 2015 and June 2016, female representation in both university executive leadership and senior academic leadership increased by about 4%
  • Almost 30% of faculty members are female (28% in 2013)