Year at a Glance 2019-2020

A student walking down the tunnel wearing a red backpack with the words Year ta  Glance 2019 - 2020.

Our vision is to create a campus culture where students, faculty, and staff are engaged in enabling, supporting, and celebrating student success. Partnerships and collaboration with the campus community are key in our ability to attain our vision and achieve success in our initiatives. 

We engage with our entire student population, intentionally, proactively, and meaningfully. From developing learning strategies to facilitating study abroad experiences, we are transforming the Waterloo student experience through meaningful supports, programming, and services.

What have we been focused on through 2019-2020? 

Providing academic advising staff with Mental Health First Aid training.

Increasing the number of immigration consulting appointments.

Reaching students with 5 minute academic skills presentations in the classroom.

Engaging students in the 2019 student communications survey.

Keep reading for the details on these things and more.

An image of the world in black and white. International Student Experience 

An image of the world in black and white.

  • 604 students were welcomed to Canada at the airport

  • 315 students attended breakfast seminars

  • 1,300 students attended the President's International Welcome event

We embrace and recognize the value of international students, and actively facilitate a welcoming community, where international students are supported in attaining academic and personal success. We deliver welcoming transitional support to students and their families, and work with campus partners to create a campus that celebrates and values the contributions of our diverse community.

Our students come from over 130 countries, many leaving their support networks and families in their home countries. We deliver creative and intentional programs and supports that meet the needs of our students, offering a support network here at Waterloo.

We regularly share our expertise with staff and faculty, imparting knowledge and opportunities to support the experiences of our international students. Myths and Realities of the International Student Experience was delivered at both the Staff and Advisor Conference to 160+ staff members. 93% of Staff Conference survey respondents indicated satisfaction with the presentation and 75% of respondents indicated the session provided them with new knowledge or skills.

Immigration Consulting

A black linear icon of a globe on a stack of linear text books.Immigration Consulting

A black linear icon of a globe on a stack of linear text books.

  • 5,049 immigration consulting appointments

  • 7,568 emails for immigration support

  • 1,963 students attended immigration information sessions

We know that equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary to navigate immigration processes confidently and independently, contributes to their resiliency. Our team of Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultants provide free and confidential service to our students which continues to evolve through a constant pursuit of professional and operational excellence. We regularly share our deep understanding of immigration policy with our campus partners.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, we adapted to rapid shifts in immigration policy and developed new resources to advise our students. We now offer a fully remote consultation model to meet our students when they need us.

A linear icon in black of a leaf sitting top of a textbook.Academic Development

A linear icon in black of a leaf sitting top of a textbook.

  • 2,000+students received a 5 minute academic skills presentation

  • 2,100+students participated in a teamwork module

  • 621peer success coaching appointments

Successful students are aware of their learning strengths and challenges, adaptable to meeting learning expectations and know when to ask for help. In collaboration with faculty, staff, and student leaders, we aim to create a campus culture that supports student wellness and academic success by integrating learning skills into students’ experiences. We do this by providing research-informed consultation around student learning, initiatives that enhance learning skills in the classroom, and traditional learning skills programming. 

5 Minute Academic Skills Presentations

Our 5 minute skills presentation series supports new students’ transition to university by introducing them to the basics of academic skills. We work with instructors to deliver the content to students where they are – in the classroom. The series is incorporated into 23 first year courses among all six faculties. The top four student ranked presentations include Backwards Planning, Coping with Stress, Test Taking Strategies, and Managing your Time in University.

Teamwork Series 

The Teamwork Series was developed by the Student Success Office, the Faculty of Engineering, and various support units. Six in-class modules are delivered along-side existing course projects so students can practice and apply the teamwork skills they are taught. These modules are incorporated across all disciplines in various first to fourth year undergraduate engineering courses, with topics including Project Planning, Team Communication, Conflict Management, and Giving and Receiving Feedback. Over 2,100 students across 28 courses participated in at least one Teamwork module.

Peer Success Coaching

Over the last year, our Peer Success Coaches hosted 621 one on one coaching appointments for students from all faculty and degree levels. 97% of students were satisfied with their coaching appointment.

“I think these skills supported my academic success this year because they helped me to better understand the content, make better use of my time, and I was able to use them for all of my courses.” 
– Undergraduate student

A black icon image of an airplane flying through a globe.Exchange & Intercultural Learning

A black icon image of an airplane flying through a globe.

  • 538 outbound exchange and mobility experiences from Waterloo

  • 481 inbound exchange semesters hosted at Waterloo

  • 95 exchange partner institutions around the world

International exchange experiences are often life-changing for students, expanding their world-view and supporting their development as global-ready graduates. Intercultural learning opportunities, like those in the Global Experience Certificate, support and recognize the development of intercultural skills and competencies and are prized by students for contributing to their employability, helping them develop global perspectives, and assisting them in appreciating the experiences of newcomers to Canada.

We champion and facilitate international mobility experiences that work for Waterloo students. We work with students to improve their intercultural learning skills at home and abroad. More broadly, our work supports the University’s Internationalization-at-Home and Internationalization Abroad initiatives.

“So valuable that the University has a dedicated Intercultural Learning Specialist spreading intercultural education across the school. The long-term indirect benefits of your work are hidden, but powerful." 
– Undergraduate student 

A black linear icon of an open text book. Cross Campus Advising Strategy

A black linear icon of an open text book.

  • 142+advising staff trained in mental health first aid

  • 60+academic advisors meet for monthly coffee chats

  • 77%of undergraduate advisors attend termly roundtables

Advisors play a significant role in retention efforts and are tied to student persistence to continue to graduation. We connect advisors with training, information, and resources to help them support and enhance the student experience. Through the Advising Community of Practice, we lead cross-campus initiatives aimed at enhancing the student experience. We have worked with a number of faculties to define the responsibilities and scope of advisors, providing clear leadership for advising best practices and assessment, and giving their advisors ongoing training opportunities.  

The Advisor Resources website was launched in November 2019 in partnership with the Registrar’s Office to ensure access to coordinated, timely and relevant information from across campus is available to all staff in academic advising roles.

The sixth annual advisor conference “Updating your Online Advisor Tool Box” saw 200+ staff and faculty supported in their shift to online advising amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference highlighted the revised AccessAbility accommodation process, tips and strategies to support student success and wellness, and understanding the unique challenges that our international students face.

“This was one of the best trainings, I have done during my time at UW. I have been advising for several years ... I think this should be mandatory or highly encouraged for UG advisors.” 
- Undergraduate academic advisor 

A black linear icon of two chat bubbles. Communications & Engagement

A black linear icon of two chat bubbles.

Communicating and engaging with students through their preferred channels, with messages they relate to, ensures students are not overwhelmed by information, and instead connects them with the information they need when they need it. We work to ensure students feel like they are part of a Waterloo community that supports them, provides the resources they want and need, listens to their concerns, helps them through challenging times and celebrates their achievements.

The 2019 Student Communications Survey gathered key information about Waterloo students’ communications preferences. Results and insights were shared in a report and presentations to campus partners.

Portal 2.0 launched in 2019, improving the user experience and enhancing the content, bringing students closer to the information that’s important them.

Pre-arrival communications planning included coordinated email, videos, print, and social media to help new students prepare for their first year at Waterloo. A new online guide for parents and supporters of incoming first year students was launched based on industry research and feedback from Waterloo families.