The 2020/21 academic year was like no other as students, faculty and staff continued to navigate the evolving challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

The UBC community proved its resilience and demonstrated its innovative spirit, moving forward on many fronts to deliver excellence in teaching, learning and research.

Here are some highlights from the past year. 

Student wearing a backpack sits outside, smiling


UBC’s global rankings 

In September 2020, the Times Higher Education World University Rankings were released: UBC maintained its 34th place position from the previous year.

UBC’s global impact was highlighted in the 2021 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, released in April 2021. UBC placed second in Canada for impact, and 13th in the world out of more than 1,000 participating institutions. These rankings measure how well universities help to advance the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that promote social and economic wellbeing across the planet.

Read more about UBC’s rankings and check out some facts about UBC.  

Aerial view of The Musqueam Post, carved by  Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow Jr., on UBC Vancouver campus

Advancing inclusive excellence

UBC continued its implementation of the Inclusion Action Plan over the 2020/21 academic year. In March 2021, the Anti-Racism and Inclusive Excellence Task Force was assembled as one of a series of initiatives to address systemic racism within the UBC community.

In June 2021, UBC convened a two-day National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism, bringing people together to share stories and find common themes to collectively support efforts against anti-Asian racism in Canada. Students also participated in a separate dialogue to discuss their unique experiences when confronting anti-Asian racism.

Composite illustration of Asian individuals for National Forum on Anti-Asian Racism

UBC’s COVID-19 research

UBC researchers are working to develop treatments, inform responses and understand the broader health, social, safety, economic and educational impacts of COVID-19. A key element of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccine can be traced back to research at UBC: the innovative lipid nanoparticle delivery system that allows the vaccine to enter human cells has origins in research from the lab of Dr. Pieter Cullis in the 1970s and ‘80s.

Learn more about the range of UBC research responses to the pandemic

Illustration of coronavirus

Further Highlights

First degree in Indigenous language fluency 

sn̓ilíʔtn, a permanent installation by Syilx artist Les Louis, on UBC's Okanagan campus

In March 2021, UBC’s Okanagan campus announced a new bachelor’s degree in Indigenous language fluency. The program, a first of its kind in Canada, will be taught in Nsyilxcn, the language spoken by members of the Syilx Okanagan Nation, upon whose lands the Okanagan campus is situated. Announced as part of UBC’s ongoing commitments to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the program will foster new, fluent speakers with a deep understanding of the language, culture and customs.

Enabling success through inclusive teaching

Student in a classroom looks pensive

UBC continues its efforts to build a more inclusive campus community and create supportive and equitable learning environments. The Inclusive Teaching @ UBC initiative was developed to provide a central place to learn inclusive teaching practices. The initiative aims to create a learning environment where all students feel that their differences are valued and respected; have equitable access to learning and other educational opportunities; and are supported to learn to their full potential.

PhD student award launch accelerated

Grad student works with a petri dish

Originally planned for a September 2020 launch, the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative PhD award was accelerated to May 2020, in response to the hardship faced by UBC’s graduate students as a result of the pandemic. This ongoing partial tuition award recognizes the significant contributions of doctoral students to UBC’s research capacity and aspirations.

Students make space for self-care

Student sits on their bed, smiling and waving at their laptop

Fostering a healthy headspace is always an important part of staying well, and even more so during a busy school year, conducted from home during a pandemic. For UBC’s Thrive Month in November 2020, two upper-year students reflected on the importance of making self-care a priority—not just an option.

Looking for UBC’s institutional reports?  

Shaping UBC’s Next Century sets out our collective vision, purpose, goals and priorities for the years ahead. Learn more about UBC’s strategic plan in action on the strategic plan website and access a wealth of stories, updates and metrics tracking our progress and achievements—check back frequently.  

Learn more about UBC’s institutional strategies and frameworks

Reconciliation Pole on UBC Vancouver campus

Truth and Reconciliation

Learn about the development process and implementation of the Indigenous Strategic Plan, now in year two.

Indigenous Strategic Plan

Students looking at a computer together

Diversity and Inclusion

Find out how we’re building a more inclusive UBC. 

Inclusion Action Plan

Professor recording a lecture

Focus on People

Learn how UBC is supporting faculty and staff in realizing their greatest potential. 

Focus on People

Student looks into a tub of marine water

UBC Climate Emergency

Learn more about UBC’s climate commitments. 

Climate Emergency

Construction worker helps raise a wood panel

Sustainable Building Projects

By 2035, UBC’s buildings will make net positive contributions to human and natural systems. 

Green Building Action Plan

Masked student skateboards past the UBC Aquatic Centre

Better Health Together 

See how UBC is working to advance collaborative health.  

UBC Health   

Canadian flag over UBC Vancouver

Global Engagement

Read more about UBC’s Global Engagement Strategy. 

UBC’s Global Engagement Strategy 

Aerial view of UBC Okanagan


Download UBC’s report to the Ministry of Education. 

2020/2021 Institutional Accountability Plan and Report

Keyboard of a laptop

Financial Reports

Look over UBC’s annual audited financial statements. 

Financial Reports 

Find further institutional plans and frameworks from across UBC.