Jul 12, 2024  
University of Alberta Calendar 2016-2017 
University of Alberta Calendar 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

General University Policies

Return to: University Regulations and Information for Students  

Mission Statement

The mission of the University of Alberta is to serve our community by the dissemination of knowledge through teaching and the discovery of knowledge through research. The mission will be carried out in a select number of fields and professions, to be determined within the context of a province-wide educational system and based upon the highest national and international standards.

Statement on Equity in Student Affairs

The University of Alberta strives to provide a fair, open and supportive environment for students.

Acknowledging the diversity of the Canadian population, and the University’s obligation to remain open to all sectors of society, the University of Alberta encourages applications for admission from all qualified persons including Aboriginal peoples, persons with disabilities, visible minorities, and women. In this manner the University demonstrates its commitment to improving the representativeness of its communities.

The Alberta Human Rights Act, sections 3 and 11.1, requires that no individual be discriminated against on the basis of race, religious beliefs, color, gender, physical disability, mental disability, marital status, age, ancestry, or place of origin, family status, or source of income except where the discrimination can be shown to be reasonable and justifiable. The University of Alberta recognizes and accepts its responsibility to comply with the requirements of this Act in its consideration of students for admission, promotion, and graduation. Of its own volition the University of Alberta does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or political belief.

Subject to the limits set out in the Alberta Human Rights Act, the University of Alberta affirms its right to determine the criteria by which applicants are accepted into the University community. Individuals seeking admission to or continuance in academic programs must meet the qualifications and performance standards set out by the University’s governing bodies.

Electronic Communication Policy for Students and Applicants

The University of Alberta uses and will use electronic communication with its students and applicants in lieu of many paper-based processes. “Electronic communication” includes anything that is created, recorded, transmitted or stored in digital form or in any other intangible form by electronic, magnetic or optical means or by any equivalent means. Currently, this most often includes information communicated by e-mail and via a website.

All references in the Calendar and in other University policies to any method of communication by the University by any media, shall be deemed to include the right of the University to make such communication by electronic means.

It is important to note that communication by electronic means between the University and its students and applicants remains at the option of the University. Some Faculties, Departments or other offices of the University may maintain policies to communicate by non-electronic means, in certain cases, or generally. The following determine what form of communication students and applicants should use in response to communications from the University:

  1. if a specific method of response (such as by e-mail, a web-based form, or a paper form) is stated as being required in the communication from the University, use that method;
  2. if an option to use different methods of communication is provided, any of the options may be used;
  3. if no specified method or option for response is stated, respond using the same method in which the communication was made. That is, if an e-mail is received, respond by e-mail; if a letter or other communication in paper form is received, reply in paper form.

All students and applicants will be assigned a University of Alberta Campus Computing ID (CCID) with e-mail privileges (see Information Services and Technology ).

Where the University chooses to communicate by e-mail, the communication will normally be directed to the e-mail address that was originally assigned by the University.

Important note: Information Services and Technology allows students and applicants to change their originally assigned University e-mail address to a preferred University e-mail address. If students or applicants choose to change their originally assigned e-mail address to a preferred e-mail address, the preferred e-mail address will become the one used by the University pursuant to this policy, and e-mail will not be received at the original address. It is the responsibility of all students and applicants to ensure that it is possible for them to receive, access, read and act upon all e-mail from the University in a timely fashion. The University is not responsible for failure to receive communications as a result of students or applicants having changed their originally assigned e-mail address to a preferred e-mail address. If students or applicants choose to forward their University directed e-mail to other non-University e-mail addresses such as those offered by Hotmail, Yahoo, Shaw, Telus, etc., they do so at their own risk.

Electronic communications sent by the University will be deemed received the next University business day after the day the e-mail was sent, regardless of any error, failure notice, internet service provider problem, virus, e-mail filters, or auto-reply related to students’ or applicants’ e-mail, unless the error or problem originated with the University of Alberta. Students and applicants are expected to check their e-mail account frequently in order to stay current with University communications. Information Services and Tehnology must be advised of any problems encountered with e-mail accounts immediately by contacting the Help Desk at (780) 492-9400. Failure to receive or read in a timely manner University communications sent to the e-mail address does not absolve students and applicants from knowing, responding to or complying with the content of that communication.

While the University of Alberta may require students and applicants to use electronic communication, they must nonetheless continue to exercise prudence and common sense in their electronic communications with the University, recognizing that:

  1. great care must be taken to ensure that the e-mail is addressed only to the intended recipients;
  2. caution should be exercised when copying or forwarding information to others;
  3. the use of file attachments with e-mail communications is discouraged unless the sender has verified that the attachments will be accessible to and readable by all intended recipients and that they are virus-free;
  4. students and applicants should check their mailboxes regularly to ensure there is enough available space for new messages;
  5. students and applicants must inform Information Services and Tehnology immediately by contacting the Help Desk at (780) 492-9400 if their e-mail is not working;
  6. if students and applicants do not have the ability to access e-mail communications or the web, they must inform the Office of the Registrar in order to make alternate arrangements.

Electronic communication will be subject to the same policies on information disclosure as other methods of communication (see Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy). The laws of Alberta will apply to all electronic transactions and communications involving the University of Alberta.

Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy

On September 1, 1999, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act came into effect at the University of Alberta. The purpose of this Act is to allow any person a right of access to the records of the University, to control the manner in which the University may collect information from individuals, to control the use that the University may make of that information, to control its disclosure of that information, to allow individuals the right of access to information about themselves, to allow individuals a right to request corrections to their personal information and to provide for an independent review of decisions of the University made under this Act, and the resolution of complaints under this Act.

The University of Alberta creates and collects information for the purposes of admission, registration and other activities directly related to its education programs. All applicants for admission are advised that the information they provide, and any other information placed into the student record, will be protected and used in compliance with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

University Bloodborne Pathogens Policy

The University of Alberta’s policy on bloodborne pathogens is designed to limit the possibility of transmission of bloodborne pathogens within the educational setting. The University recognizes, however, that it is not possible to completely eliminate the risk of infection. Concern about limiting the transmission of bloodborne pathogens must be balanced against the University’s duty to provide a work, study and living environment which is free from discrimination except where that discrimination can be shown to be reasonable and justifiable in the circumstances.

Students, Academic staff, Non-academic staff and other individuals at the University of Alberta shall observe Universal Precautions at all times within the educational setting to lessen their risk of acquiring or transmitting bloodborne pathogens from/to another person. These precautions entail the avoidance of direct contact with the blood, blood products, and other body fluids of another person.

All staff and students who have any exposure of blood and/or body fluids to non-intact skin, a mucous membrane or a needlestick injury during the course of their work or study are required to report that exposure to their supervisors and the Office of Environmental Health and Safety. These individuals are also required to seek medical attention as soon as possible at a medical facility or the University Health Centre.

Further information pertaining to the Health Canada, Infection Control Guidelines: Preventing the Transmission of Bloodborne Pathogens in Health Care and Public Services Settings or Universal Precautions may be obtained from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety.

For applicants to or students in health care programs where there is a greater potential for transmission of bloodborne pathogens to patients/clients as a result of clinical activities in practice settings, there may be requirements for testing for Hepatitis B and C. Testing may be either a condition of admission or a requirement during the course of a program. All testing will be done through the University Health Centre. Information on any requirements for and timing of testing for particular Faculties, appears in either the Undergraduate Admission  section or Program Requirements outlines in The Faculties  sections of this Calendar.

An unabridged copy of the Bloodborne Pathogens Policy may be obtained from University Governance (www.governance.ualberta.ca).

University Patent Policy

By accepting admission, students agree to abide by the provisions of the University of Alberta Patent Policy, as the same may be amended from time to time, with regard to any patentable discoveries or inventions in which students may participate. Acceptance of this policy is a condition of registration in any University program. Copies of the University of Alberta Patent Policy are available from the Office of the Vice-President, Research.  (See correction April 6, 2016)  

University Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants

After extensive consultation with each Faculty, General Faculties Council, and the Board of Governors of the University of Alberta have adopted a uniform policy for the ethical treatment of human research participants. This policy applies to all research that involves human participants. The goal of the University Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants is to ensure that the welfare of human participants is protected and that basic rights are observed. The guidelines included in the University Standards highlight the obligation of researchers: (1) to minimize risk of harm to participants, (2) to obtain informed consent and cooperation from participants, (3) to respect rights of confidentiality and anonymity, and (4) to conduct research competently. The University’s view is that the ethical conduct of research is not inherently in conflict with the free pursuit of research goals. (See correction April 6, 2016)   

Each Faculty is charged with the responsibility of reviewing proposed research projects. Ethics Review Committees are not intended to have an adversarial relationship with researchers, but rather to provide consultation and support. The underlying assumption is that people who conduct research with human participants subscribe to ethical research values, but that oversights sometimes occur that can put participants at risk. The purpose of ethics review is to assist in the identification of unintended risk factors and to achieve a resolution that will permit the research to proceed. Experience demonstrates that this approach will result in research that is both productive and ethically acceptable. Questions about research ethics should be directed to the appropriate Faculty Ethics Review Committee.


All research using human participants comes under the purview of the University Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants

  1. whether participants are drawn from University sources or from any other sources;
  2. whether participants are paid or unpaid;
  3. whether it is conducted on University property or at any other location;
  4. whether it is conducted in a laboratory or in the field;
  5. whether it is conducted in person or by some other means (e.g., mail, telephone, computer link);
  6. whether information is collected via direct observation, apparatus, questionnaire, interview, or review of records not normally available to the public;
  7. when it is conducted for teaching and demonstration purposes where students are either the subjects or the researchers.

The term researcher(s) in these Standards includes all members of the University, all other persons who advance research as being connected with the University in any way, and all other persons who intend to use University resources in their research (e.g., research space, materials, equipment, student/staff participants, personnel). For the purpose of these Standards, members of the University are all faculty, staff, sessional instructors, administrators, students, visiting or adjunct scholars, fellows and chairs, paid and unpaid research associates and assistants, and any other person in a like position. These Standards apply to all persons who meet the above-stated definition, whether they are principal investigators or junior collaborators.

Human participation in research includes the direct or indirect involvement of persons who are the focus of a researcher’s inquiry, the use of extant documents and other records and materials (e.g., blood and tissue samples) containing information about persons when the collection and the use of such information could deprive them of their dignity or jeopardize their physical or mental wellbeing. Persons studied on the basis of information contained in newspaper and journal articles, or other public materials, are not deemed to be research participants for the purposes of this policy.

Ethical Guidelines

In those situations where it is difficult to judge the obligation of good scientific enquiry and that of participant protection, formalized rules and regulations cannot be used to resolve the dilemma; instead it is necessary to weigh carefully the values and alternatives. In many cases, decisions reflect a judgement between the expected benefits of the research and the possible effects of the procedures on participants. The purpose of this section is to offer guidelines, rather than definitive rules, to assist in resolving dilemmas.

  1. If research procedures, material or equipment, or the dissemination of results could potentially produce physical or mental harm for the participant, the investigator must assess the magnitude and present justification for it to an appropriate Ethics Review Committee (ERC). Before approving the research, the committee must be satisfied that there is a reasonable expectation that the results will significantly increase understanding or will benefit human health/welfare. As the magnitude of the potential risk increases, it becomes increasingly important that benefits outweigh those risks.

Research may be viewed as being ethical when the benefits outweigh the risks and the participants’ welfare is safeguarded. In balancing the issues raised by these interrelated considerations, recognition should be given to variations in perceptions regarding ethics from community to community and over time.

An assessment must be made of the degree of risk, minimal or significant, to a participant. A minimal risk is defined as one that is no greater than the risks of everyday life or of routine medical or psychological examinations. A significant risk involves potential physical or psychological harm to the participants or, in some cases, to the groups of which they are members. If the risk is considered greater than minimal, the investigator must decide whether a participant should be exposed to the procedure. If the procedure is to be undertaken, the investigator must inform the participant of the risk before initiating the study. Should adverse effects result from research procedures, the researcher has an obligation to assist the participant in appreciably reducing or reversing those effects.

The magnitude of the potential benefit of the proposed research must be appraised by an ERC. The evaluation should be based on a global assessment of the degree to which the research might further our understanding of a phenomenon. Researchers are encouraged to make sure that subjects benefit from participation in the research by such means as educational post-briefing.

  1. Where possible, participants or their surrogates must give fully informed and voluntary consent to participation.
  2. Where possible, participants must be guaranteed anonymity and their responses treated with confidentiality. Where exceptions must be made, participants must be informed about the degree of anonymity and confidentiality prior to being asked for consent, and such guarantees must be respected.

The investigator must establish a fair agreement with the participant which clearly expresses the participant’s respective obligations and responsibilities before the participant decides whether or not to participate. Participants should be informed of the opportunity to withdraw at any time without penalty. The researcher must inform the participant of all aspects of the research that could reasonably be expected to influence the participant’s willingness to participate. Any incentive offered to participants must not be so large as to become an undue inducement that would undermine the voluntariness of participation. Captive populations, such as prisoners or patients, must not be offered inducements that would unduly improve their situation or influence their relation to others. If the participants are students and are involved in research as part of their education, they must be given an opportunity to obtain equivalent experiences through alternative procedures. In all cases, the participant should be informed of a person who may be contacted in case of concerns, complaints, or consequences. Research with children or participants who have impairments that would limit understanding requires special safeguarding procedures. Normally, consent from these persons must be obtained and these persons must be informed that they are free at any time to withdraw from participation. In addition to assent from a child (if the child has the capacity to understand) consent must be obtained from parents or guardians of the child (under age of 18 years). However, a child’s dissent will always override a parent’s or guardian’s consent, while a child’s assent will never override a parent’s or guardian’s refusal to grant consent. Consent may not be required from participants when the research involves the use of documents, records, pathological or diagnostic specimens, or data already collected (i.e., secondary analysis) or public behavior. “Public” refers to behavior that occurs in a context in which an individual may expect to be observed, recorded or to provide information that may be released. If anonymity and confidentiality cannot be assured, participants must be made aware of this limitation and of the possible consequences before becoming involved. Any use of secondary data not in the public domain must be in compliance with these guidelines.

  1. Researchers must be competent in their area of inquiry, and they must be familiar with appropriate ethical guidelines and with participant risks and the possible uses to which the results may be put in order to make responsible decisions. The responsibility includes the awareness of and efforts to avoid discrimination and biases in research practices and in the interpretation of findings (for example, biases related to race and gender). When in doubt about the application of these guidelines, the investigator is encouraged to consult with informed colleagues and supervisors.
  2. The investigator must ensure that all individuals under the investigator’s supervision have the training and competence needed to carry out their responsibilities. Principal investigators must ensure that all research personnel are familiar with the University Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants and with applicable professional guidelines.

Adequate supervision of student research must be ensured, especially where risk or sensitive areas are present. Because the investigator is ultimately responsible, such supervision is imperative. Researchers will ensure that all research assistants and student investigators are familiar with the University Standards for the Protection of Human Research Participants and with applicable professional guidelines.

  1. Participants have the following rights: to consent to participate without coercion; to be fully informed about the project, except in special circumstances noted earlier under concealment; to be provided with opportunity to assess risk, including individual risks and individual and societal benefits; to withdraw from the research without penalty or risk of any kind (including loss of agreed-upon monetary reimbursement or other incentives); to be fully informed of the degree of anonymity; to be fully informed during post-briefing when concealment has been used.

Risk Management Services

Risk Management Services (RMS) provides the expertise, services and tools for resource planning and risk management at the University of Alberta.

Within RMS, the Office of Emergency Management has been established to ensure the University has policies, procedures and plans in place to address any emergency or disaster situation.

Visit the RMS website (www.rms.ualberta.ca) for current information.