Life at UVic

Relaxing in front of the Parliament Building

Thank you for bringing your experiences and your goals to UVic. You're in for a warm welcome from the whole campus community.

Getting started | Academic success | Accommodation & food | Communication | Courses & registration | Financial matters | Health & wellness | Safety | Student life | Transportation

Getting started

International Student Services

Wherever you're coming from, and whatever your previous connection to Canada, International Student Services is dedicated to helping you get the most from your UVic experience. Consider us your local consultants for all things new and different.

Our services include:

  • This website, a great place to start for all your questions. Contact us if you can't find the answers you're looking for or if you require more information.
  • Orientation that has your every need covered, including arrival assistance in September and welcome receptions in September and January.
  • Email updates to keep you informed about programs and events, important dates and exciting opportunities for international students.
  • Drop-in hours at International Student Services in University Centre A205 every week day between 2:00pm and 4:00pm. Student advisors are available to answer your questions about immigration documents, health insurance, social insurance numbers, income tax and other non-academic issues related to your life as an international student. We can also connect you with other resources, both on and off campus.
  • Programs and events that provide opportunities to meet friends from around the world and learn about Canadian culture.
  • Programs and events that provide opportunities to improve your English language skills and learn about the Canadian academic system.

Global Community

The Global Community is a mosaic of international and domestic students, staff and faculty working together to cultivate an inclusive and globally minded campus. Join the UVic Global Community facebook group to receive regular updates about programs and events that provide opportunities to meet friends from around the world and learn about Canadian culture.

International Commons

The International Commons is a place where international students can access information, resources and assistance to support their academic success at UVic. Join the UVic International Commons facebook group to receive regular updates about programs and events that provide opportunities to improve your English language skills and learn about the Canadian academic system.

Orientation events

New Student Orientation and International Student Services offer fun and informative orientation events designed to help you have a smooth transition to UVic.

TIP: All new students are expected to attend orientation events. If you miss them, or if you start at UVic during the summer session, visit International Student Services in University Centre A205 to pick up a welcome package.

Identification cards

Your student identification card is your principal form of identification at UVic, and is required throughout your program of study.

You may also want to get a government issued British Columbia Identification Card (BC ID) or a Photo BC Serivces Card so you can keep your passport in a safe place instead of carrying it around with you.

You may also want to get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to take advantage of student discounts and benefits in 120 countries.

Academic success

Learning Commons

Efficient and integrated academic support is available at the Learning Commons on the main floor of the Mearns Centre. Services available include:

  • The International Commons
  • The Writing Centre
  • Learning skills, study solutions and peer helping
  • Academic advising
  • Math and Stats help
  • Physics help
  • French help
  • Research help
  • Computer and technical help

Academic integrity

 It is important to be aware of UVic’s policies on academic integrity and the serious consequences that may follow if you are accused of academic misconduct.

Academic concession

If you are ever affected by illness, accident or family affliction, you should immediately consult with Counselling Services, Health Services or another health professional. In such cases, you may qualify for an academic concession.


The Ombudsperson assists in resolving student fairness issues and in fostering respectful learning and working environments.

Resource Centre for Students with a Disability

UVic is committed to creating a campus that is accessible for all. Visit the Resource Centre for Students with a Disability website for more information.

Accommodation & food

On-campus accommodation

Residence Services at UVic offers two types of on-campus accommodation for exchange students: dormitory buildings and cluster units. For information about both of these options, visit the Residence Services website. If you want to live on campus, submit your application as early as possible. Each year the numbers of applications exceed available space.

Exchange students who want to live on campus for the 2014-15 academic year must follow these steps:

  • Submit an online application form on or after March 3, 2014 for the September to December term, or submit an online application form in September for the January to April 2015 term. The application form will ask for your UVic student number. Please enter V00000002 to identify yourself as an exchange student.
  • Pay the $50 non-refundable application fee.
  • Wait for confirmation from Residence Services.

TIP: If you live on campus, make sure you take advantage of everything the Residence Life and Education team has to offer.

Off-campus accommodation

Residence Services at UVic maintains the Off-Campus Housing Listings to provide students with information about rental opportunities including suites, apartments, houses and shared living situations.

You should only agree to rent an off-campus accommodation after you have inspected it yourself and met the landlord. Do not let someone else choose a potential dwelling on your behalf. Standards of accommodation vary and only you can determine the suitability of a potential home.

TIP: International Student Services can help you find off-campus accommodation after you arrive in Victoria.

Homestay Program

Living with a family in Victoria is a great option for students who want to live off campus, but who aren't quite ready to set up a home of their own. The UVic Homestay Program brings international students and Canadian families together to share cultures and develop long-lasting friendships.

Tenant rights and responsibilities

If you pay rent for your accommodation, you are a tenant. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the legal rights and responsibilities for tenants in British Columbia. The Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre produces the Tenant Survival Guide, which is an excellent resource.

Food on campus

Visit the Food Services website to find campus dining locations, hours of operation and menus. If you eat on campus regularly, a dining card can save you up to 10% of each purchase.

The Student Union Building offers various food options, and there is a restaurant in the Grad Centre.

Food in Victoria

We are very fortunate in Victoria to have access to food from around the world. Visit International Student Services in University Centre A205 for a list of bakeries, delis, markets and grocery stores. Search online for restaurants using Urbanspoon and Cheep Eats Victoria.


UVic email address

Be sure to create an email address using your NetLink ID so that you receive important messages from UVic. If you don't want to check multiple email accounts, you can arrange for emails sent to your UVic account to be automatically forwarded to the email account you plan to check regularly.


Computing facilities are available on campus. Public computers are also available in the Mearns Centre.

If you have a laptop or other mobile device, you can access free wireless internet on campus. Many businesses in Victoria, such as coffee shops and restaurants, also offer free wireless internet.

The Computer Help Desk is the first place to contact when you have computer-related questions. They provide information and advice, and they accept work orders for computing equipment repairs.

The Computer Store is located in the UVic Bookstore and stocks a selection of hardware and software.


Free phones for local calls are located around campus.

Many students download a program called Skype. With this program you can make free phone calls anywhere in the world using a computer or mobile device and an internet connection.

The major mobile phone providers in Victoria include Bell, Fido, Koodo Mobile, Rogers, Telus Mobility and Virgin Mobile. Use Compare Cellular to compare plans and select the one which best suits your needs.

Canada Post

Canada Post provides delivery service for letters, documents and parcels within Canada, to the US and internationally. If you move, you can arrange for mail to be forwarded to your new address. You can also arrange for Canada Post to suspend mail delivery and hold your mail while you are away from home.

There is a Post Office inside Campus Pharmacy, which is located in the Student Union Building.

Courses & registration

What is the first step in the course selection process?

  • Before registration in June, your exchange advisor will contact you regarding the courses you indicated on the proposed study plan section of your exchange application.
  • The exchange advisor will determine if the courses you indicated are scheduled to be offered during your exchange term(s). Your advisor will contact the departments on campus to seek permission for you to take those courses.
  • All courses must be approved before you can register.

What do I need to register for courses?

You will complete your course registration online using My page. My page is the online information and registration portal at the University of Victoria. In order to register for courses online, you will need:

  • Your UVic student number (V-number listed on your UVic admission letter).
  • A NetLink ID and password.
  • The UVic Calendar (contains descriptions of all UVic courses).
  • Your registration date and time. See "When should I register for courses" (below) for details.

How do I select my courses?

  • You will need to use the online timetable information available within My page to select your courses and create your schedule.
  • Please refer to "Step 3: select your courses" on the undergraduate registration steps web page for further details.
  • Keep track of the five digit course registration numbers (CRNs) for the courses in which you plan to register.

TIP: If a course requires a lab or tutorial in addition to the lecture, you must register for both the lecture section and the lab or tutorial section. Lecture sections are designated by an "A" in front of the section number (e.g. A01, A02, etc.) Lab sections are designated by a "B" in front of the section number. Tutorial sections have a "T" in front of the section number.

When should I register for courses?

  • Registration for courses that begin in September and January takes place in June.
  • Registration for courses that begin in May, June, July and August takes place in March.
  • You will receive an email from the registrar's office in June telling you when your registration "timeticket" (registration date and time) is available for you to view in My page.
  • Your registration date and time will be available when you log into My page under the student services menu. First click on "register for courses", then choose the appropriate term (e.g. fall term: Sept-Dec 2014 or spring term: Jan-April 2015) from the pull-down menu followed by "submit," and then click on "registration status."

TIP: Most courses fill quickly. If you register after your assigned registration date, you may find course selection very limited. You must select your courses and have them approved in advance so that you are ready to register on your assigned registration date. Please do not try to register before your assigned date, as you will be denied access.

Which courses should I register in?

At UVic, the academic year is divided into a winter session and a summer session as follows:

  • The eight-month winter session is from September to April and is divided into a fall term from September to December and a spring term from January to April.
  • The four-month summer session is from May to August. During this session, UVic offers a four-month term as well as condensed, shorter terms with various start and end dates.

TIP: Make sure you register for courses in the appropriate term. Note the start and end dates!

  • Fall term courses have a "1" as the first digit of their CRN (course registration number).
  • Spring term courses have a "2" as the first digit of their CRN.
  • Summer session courses have a "3" as the first digit of their CRN.
  • If you are on exchange for one term only, you should not register in any courses that span two terms (e.g. 3.0 unit courses).
  • If you are staying for two terms and wish to register for a course that spans both terms, you will need to register for both terms of the course. You must be careful to register within the same section each term.

TIP: Course descriptions are listed in the UVic Calendar, but not every course listed in the UVic Calendar is offered each term or each academic year. Refer to the registration timetable or click on "summer," "fall" or "spring" at the bottom of a course description in the UVic Calendar to see which courses will actually be offered in the appropriate term. If you see detailed timetable information when you click on one of these terms, the course will be offered in that particular term.

You may register in courses in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities and Science as long as you have satisfied all course prerequisites. A very limited number of courses in the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Gustavson School of Business are open to exchange students. Learn more about what you can study.

You can not usually take courses with the Faculties of Education, Law and Engineering unless your university has an exchange agreement. You would need special permission from the respective departments to be considered. Please contact your for help.

TIP: Complete the self-placement questionnaire on the academic writing requirement web page before registering for a first-year English course. The questionnaire will recommend one or more courses that are best suited to your level of proficiency in written English.

How many courses should I register in?

  • Courses at UVic are measured in units.
  • Courses with a duration of one winter session term (13 weeks) normally have a value of 1.5 units.
  • Courses that span two winter session terms (26 weeks) normally have a value of 3.0 units.
  • Some courses may also have a mandatory lab or tutorial component in addition to the lecture. These components are not given an additional unit value.
  • Find unit values and hours for courses in the UVic Calendar.
  • Exchange students generally register in three to five courses (4.5 - 7.5 units) per winter session term.
  • Four courses per term (6.0 units) or 8 courses (12 units) over two terms is considered a full-time course load at UVic.
  • Please check with your home university to determine how many courses they expect you to complete during your exchange.

How do I design my course schedule?

You are responsible for designing your timetable so that your courses do not overlap. Get timetable information for all courses within My page. Please refer to "Step 5: build your conflict-free timetable" on the undergraduate registration steps web page for further details.

How do I register for courses?

You will complete your course registration online using My page. Please refer to "Step 6: register via My page" on the undergraduate registration steps web page for further details.

Can I change my course selections?

Yes. You will use My page to add and drop courses. Once you have access to My page, you can log in at any time (24 hours a day, 7 days a week). Please refer to "Step 7: review course change/add & drop deadlines" on the undergraduate registration steps web page for further details.

What if a course section is full?

If a course section that you want to register in is full, you will be given the option to be added to a waitlist. Use My page to monitor your waitlist status.

Waitlists are common for popular courses. Sometimes students do not know if they will get into a course until after classes begin. If necessary, we recommend that you add yourself to waitlists and register for alternate courses as back-up. Use My page to monitor your waitlist status.

If you are offered registration into a course section, you must accept the offer before it expires. Otherwise, you will be dropped from the waitlist. If you are dropped from the waitlist, you can try to re-register for the course section, but you will be added to the waitlist in the next available position. Learn more about waitlisting.

TIP: Waitlists are unpredictable. Sometimes students who are number 30 on a waitlist may still get into a class!

What are course prerequisites?

Course prerequisites are listed under course descriptions in the UVic Calendar. You should only register for a course if you have satisfied the required prerequisites.

Please make sure you have verified your course selection with the before registration to make sure that you have the appropriate prerequisites and departmental permission to take the courses.

If you try to register for a course for which you do not have the required prerequisites, you may be blocked from registering. If that happens, contact the for help.

TIP: It is very important that you identity yourself as an exchange student to your professors and/or the appropriate department secretaries during the first week of classes so that you are not dropped from any courses.

What if My page says I'm blocked?

You may register in courses in the Faculties of Social Sciences, Humanities and Science as long as you have satisfied all course prerequisites. A very limited number of courses in the Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Business are open to exchange students.

Courses in the Faculties of Education, Engineering and Law are normally restricted to students in those programs. You would need special permission in order to be considered. Contact the for help getting permission. Please note that this permission is not guaranteed.

If you are blocked from a course into that you think you should be able to register in, contact the for assistance.

Who can I contact for help?

Contact the for help with course selection and registration difficulties.

Financial matters


We recommend opening an account at a financial institution in Victoria. The major financial institutions in Victoria include BMO, CIBC, HSBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust. Research your options before making a decision.

TIP: If you use an Automated Banking Machine (ABM) that is not owned by your financial institution, you will probably be charged a service fee. RBC and Scotiabank both have ABMs on campus.

Tuition and fees

As an exchange student, you will pay tuition at your home institution, but you will be responsible for other student fees at UVic such as textbooks, course materials, bus pass, recreation pass, etc.

Living expenses

Living expenses include accommodation and utilities, food, health insurance, recreation, clothing and personal or family care.

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Keep in mind that your actual living expenses will depend on your lifestyle, and be sure to set aside some money for unexpected costs.

Financial assistance

Awards available to international students studying in Canada are listed on the International Scholarships website.


The regulations that allow for international student employment can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Read these regulations carefully and do not work without the proper authorization. If you do, you may be asked to leave Canada.

TIP: If you have a valid study permit and are registered in full-time studies you can work on campus without a work permit. The definition of full-time studies is available in the UVic Calendar. As an exchange student, you will not be eligible to work off campus.

For help finding jobs, contact your Co-op and Career Services office at UVic.

Health & wellness

Do I need health insurance?

The cost of medical services in Canada is very high for those who do not have health insurance. Without proper coverage, you could be denied medical services or pay thousands of dollars each day for a hospital stay. As a result, all UVic students are required to have comprehensive coverage for the entire duration of their studies.

Having both basic and extended health insurance provides you with comprehensive coverage and ensures that ill health will not cause financial difficulties or compromise your academic progress.

TIP: It is essential that any family members who are with you in Canada also obtain comprehensive coverage. You can add family members to your plans for an additional cost.

How do I get basic health insurance?

Basic health insurance covers most physician and hospital services.

I will stay in BC for more than six months:

You must enrol in the British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP) when you arrive in BC. Instructions, forms and information about premiums are available on the BC Medical Services Plan website.

After you apply, there will be a waiting period of approximately three months before your coverage begins. During the waiting period you must have coverage through an alternate health insurance provider. We recommend that you arrange for coverage before leaving home.

AON is a company UVic has selected to provide basic health insurance for new international students during the BC MSP waiting period. Instructions, forms and information about premiums are available on the AON Medical Insurance website.

I will stay in BC for fewer than six months:

You will not be eligible for the British Columbia (BC) Medical Services Plan (MSP), but you must have comparable coverage through an alternate health insurance provider for the entire duration of your studies at UVic. We recommend that you arrange for coverage before leaving home.

How do I get extended health insurance?

Extended health insurance covers a portion of vision and dental care, prescription drugs and paramedical services from specialists such as a chiropractor, a naturopath or a psychologist.

As an exchange student, you will not be eligible for the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) or the Graduate Students' Society (GSS) extended health insurance plan. However, you could obtain comparable coverage through an alternate health insurance provider if you think you might need it. We recommend that you arrange for coverage before leaving home.

Health Services

Health Services is located in the Health Centre and provides medical care for UVic students.

HealthLink BC

HealthLink BC is the gateway to non-emergency health information and advice in British Columbia (BC). It is a phone number (8-1-1) and a website, both of which can be accessed at any time of day or night. Translation services in more than 130 languages are available on request.

Campus Pharmacy

Campus Pharmacy, located in the Student Union Building, offers a wide range of health and beauty products plus prescription medications.

Campus Dental Centre

Campus Dental Centre is a full service dental practice located in the Student Union Building.

Victory Health and Wellness

Victory Health & Wellness, located in the Student Union Building, offers appointments with massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists and naturopaths.

Counselling Services

Individual and group counselling for personal issues, learning skills programs and career exploration programs are available at Counselling Services.

Peer Helping, another program supported by Counselling Services, provides assistance to students who aren’t ready to visit a counsellor but who still want to speak with someone in a confidential setting.


Emergency assistance

In Canada, you can report an emergency anytime and anywhere by phoning 9-1-1. An operator will ask you to choose police, fire or ambulance and will ask what city you are in. Translation is available in 140 languages, so tell the operator if you want to speak with someone in your language. The operator will then transfer you. Do not hang up!

UVic Emergency Alerts is an emergency notification system that allows the university to quickly contact you with important information during an emergency. Register today.

Non-emergency assistance

Campus Security Services offers personal safety tips and safety programs at UVic, including Safehaven, Safewalk, Campus Alone and direct dial phones.

Student life

Student societies

Student societies at UVic are run by students for students.

All undergraduate students are members of the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) located in the Student Union Building. Don’t miss Club and Course Union Days in September and January! With more than 200 active clubs, advocacy groups, course unions and professional development unions on campus, there are plenty of opportunities to meet like-minded friends who engage and inspire you.

All graduate students are members of the Graduate Students’ Society (GSS) located in the Grad Centre.

Multifaith Services

Multifaith Services provides religious support and spiritual care for the UVic community. Their team of culturally diverse chaplains includes Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives. Multifaith Services can also connect you with other spiritual communities in Victoria.

Athletics and Recreation

Vikes Recreation offers fitness opportunities and recreation programs for all students. Instructional classes, informal recreation, intramural teams and sport clubs are available each term for a small fee. Discover all the ways you can get active at UVic.

Vikes Athletics provides student-athletes with quality coaching and high levels of competition through varsity teams. Check out the team schedules and cheer on your UVic Vikes!

Family Centre

If your children are with you in Canada, the Family Centre at UVic is an essential resource and a welcoming space on campus. Located in the Family Student Housing Complex, the Family Centre offers a toy and book library, a clothing exchange and programs including playgroups, parent discussion groups and social events.

Equity and Human Rights

The Equity and Human Rights office supports inclusion, recognizes and embraces difference and values the contributions of all members of the UVic community. The office works together with a wide range of campus partners to ensure UVic provides a welcoming, inclusive and fair learning and working environment.


Transit system

The transit system in Victoria operates seven days a week, 365 days a year. Buses to all areas of Victoria leave frequently from UVic. Your student identification card is your bus pass and gives you unlimited access on all Victoria routes. Swipe your card every time you get on a bus.


UVic has lots of great resources for cyclists, including the SPOKES bicycle recycling program.

Tip: Cyclists are required by law to wear a helmet at all times and to use both a front headlight and a rear light at night.


Taxis are generally too expensive for regular use but can be convenient in certain situations. Taxis in Victoria are operated by well established companies that provide safe transportation and electronically metered fares. The taxi companies in Victoria include BlueBird Cabs, Victoria Taxi and Yellow Cab.


To drive a vehicle in British Columbia (BC), you must have a valid driver’s license and insurance. The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) provides information about licensing, driving rules, road safety and insurance.

New and used cars, trucks, motorcycles and scooters can be purchased or rented in Victoria. The Victoria Car Share Co-op and the Jack Bell RideShare Program provide sustainable driving options.

Tip: All vehicles at UVic must park at a meter or display a valid parking permit.

Airport shuttle bus

A shuttle bus service is available to and from the Victoria International Airport (YYJ).