Responsibilities of designated post-secondary institutions

Find out how designated institutions meet ongoing requirements.


Designated institutions are accountable to:

Find details about ongoing requirements in the:

Designated representative

The Designated Institution Representative (DIR) acts as the institution’s primary contact for federal and provincial government inquiries about international students.

The DIR:

  • should be familiar with the institution's designation agreement
  • is responsible for ensuring all required reporting on international students is completed
  • needs to know who is responsible for all aspects of work related to international students

Learn more about the role of an institution’s DIR.

Enrolment reports

Every spring and fall, designated institutions report their international student registrations, using the designated learning institution (DLI) portal.

Institutions must meet this reporting requirement, even if they have no international students.

English language requirements

Institutions set their own academic admission requirements. This includes minimum levels of English language proficiency.

Language requirements are generally set at levels that:

  • meet accepted industry standards and practices
  • ensure international students can be successful in their program of study

Institutions can compare their standards to other tests that prove a student’s ability to use English.

Advanced Education recommends using the following proficiency scores for admission at minimum:

Language examinationStandard passing score
Test Of English as Foreign Language computer-based exam (TOEFL iBT)53-100
International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic5-8
Cambridge English examsCAE-C, CAE-B, CPE-C
Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB)7-9
The Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELA)80-92

Financial protection

Private designated institutions must arrange for financial security. The security can be covered through a:

  • trust account
  • surety bond
  • phased tuition collection policy
  • other format acceptable to Advanced Education’s Director of International and Industry Collaboration, such as a letter of credit

The security protects tuition paid by international students. Find details in the Alberta Designation Requirements (ADR) guide.

Private career colleges follow financial requirements outlined in the Private Vocational Training Act. Their existing surety bond with Advanced Education meets this requirement.

Program closures

International students are refunded tuition paid for any undelivered part of the program, in accordance with an institution’s policy. A surety bond or trust account may be used to process this refund.

A refund is not processed if the student is able to complete the program without any disadvantage.

Tuition refunds

The institution’s refund policies apply when an international student:

  • terminates their student contract with the institution
  • withdraws from a program

An institution’s security may be forfeited if Advanced Education determines that the institution is:

  • required to under a student contract of their tuition refund policy
  • unable or refuses to make the refund
  • cancelling their security and the ministry is unable to determine whether the institution's tuition refund policy applies

That money is then given to the student, individual or organization that paid the tuition.

Institution changes

Email Advanced Education’s International and Industry Collaboration Unit if your designated institution is considering a:

  • name change
  • corporate restructuring
  • both

Depending on the circumstances, a new designation application and agreement may be needed.

Compliance reviews

Advanced Education conducts regular reviews of designated learning institutions.

These reviews are conducted when:

  • the ministry receives information or concerns about potential non-compliance with designation requirements
  • the institution is selected at random to undergo a compliance review

If the review is related to a concern, the ministry does an initial assessment to decide how to proceed. This usually involves looking at your institution’s website or designation file.

If requirements are not followed, institutions may be subject to:

  • random reviews and targeted compliance requests by Advanced Education
  • follow-up from IRCC
  • suspension and revocation of designation, if identified issues are not resolved

Site visits

A compliance review may include a site visit. A ministry representative will contact your institution’s designated representative to make arrangements.

You will also be asked to provide specific information, such as:

  • admission requirements and policies for international students
  • tuition refund policies
  • application, admission and completion of data
  • services provided to international students
  • records of any issues involving international students and how they were resolved
  • financial statements

All information requests are guided by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP).

Financial record requests

Designated institutions must agree to provide financial records when requested by Advanced Education. The nature of the review will determine which records are requested.

These records must be provided within the deadlines set by the ministry.


Connect with the International and Industry Collaboration Unit:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Email: [email protected]