Life at UVic

Thank you for bringing your experiences and your goals to the University of Victoria! Start your journey with curiosity and move forward with courage. The whole campus community is here to support you.

Getting startedHealth & wellness | HousingFinancial matters | Courses & registrationAcademic successStudent lifeCommunication | Transportation

Getting started

International Student Services

Wherever you're coming from, and whatever your previous connection to Canada, International Student Services (ISS) 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 welcome packages and settlement support all year round and welcome events in August/September and January.
  • Drop-in hours on week days between 2:00pm and 4:00pm in University Centre B272. Staff are available to answer your questions about immigration documents, health insurance, social insurance numbers, income tax and other non-academic issues related to living in Canada. We can also connect you with helpful resources, both on and off campus.
  • Programs and events that provide opportunities to meet friends from around the world, learn about Canadian culture and improve your English language skills.
  • Programs and services to support your academic success at UVic.

UVic Global Community

The UVic Global Community is a mosaic of international, indigenous and domestic students, staff and faculty working together to celebrate diversity, advance inter-cultural competency and cultivate an inclusive and globally minded campus.

We offer programs and events that provide opportunities to meet friends from around the world, learn about Canadian culture and improve your English language skills.

Join our facebook group to receive regular updates about programs, services, volunteer opportunities, important dates, informative articles and events.

Subscribe to our bi-weekly newsletter designed to provide you with relevant, important and interesting information that contributes to your well-being and academic success.

International Commons

The International Commons is a place where international students can access programs and services to support their academic success at UVic.

Orientation events

UVic Orientation and International Student Services (ISS) 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 the ISS office in University Centre B272 to pick up a welcome package.

About UVic

Visit the UVic website to learn more about the many services and resources available to support you in achieving your personal, academic and career goals.

About Victoria

Tourism Victoria and the ISS Shopping in Victoria handout will help you discover all that this wonderful city has to offer.

Please also read the ISS Safety handout and the ISS Culture Shock handout to learn tips for staying healthy, happy and safe while living in Victoria.

Identification cards

Please read the ISS Identification Cards handout for important information about how to get a UVic ONECard, an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) and a provincial government photo identification card.

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 any medical issues will not cause financial difficulties or compromise your academic progress.

TIP:  Family members who are with you in Canada should also obtain comprehensive coverage. You can add family members to your basic and extended health insurance plans for an additional cost.

How do I get health insurance?

Basic health insurance covers most physician and hospital services.

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.

Visit the Health insurance page for instructions about how to get basic and extended health insurance.

University Health Services

University Health Services (UHS), located in the Health Centre, provides comprehensive medical care for UVic students.

Counselling Services

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

Peer Helping, a 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.

Student Mental Health Strategy

Finding a balance between your school, work, social and personal lives is key to having academic success at university. UVic offers numerous resources, supports and opportunities to promote student mental health.

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.

Heart Pharmacy

Heart 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, located in the Student Union Building, is a full service dental practice.

Victory Health and Wellness

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


On-campus housing

Residence Services at UVic offers four types of on-campus housing for students: dormitory rooms, cluster units, apartments and family housing. For information about each 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.

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

Off-campus housing

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.

The ISS Living Off Campus in Victoria handout offers suggestions to help you find off-campus housing.

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

Tenancies are most successful when landlords and tenants fully understand their legal rights and responsibilities.

Use the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) website and the Tenant Resource & Advisory Centre (TRAC) website to familiarize yourself with the legal rights and responsibilities for tenants and landlords in British Columbia (BC). The Tenant Survival Guide is also an excellent resource.

We advise that you insure your possessions against theft, fire and other damage. There are many tenant insurance providers. Research your options before making a decision.

Financial matters


If you have a study permit, we recommend opening an account at a financial institution in Victoria. The major financial institutions in Victoria include BMO, CIBC, CWB, HSBC, RBC, Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust. Research your options before making a decision.

Please read the ISS Banking handout for important information about choosing a financial institution, opening an account and applying for a credit card.

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

Students who do not have Canadian citizenship or permanent resident status are required to pay international tuition at UVic.

The current tuition and fees schedule and instructions for paying tuition and fees are available on the Accounting Services website.

The actual amount of tuition and fees you must pay will depend on your program of study and your course registration. Your account summary is available through UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Finances tab. When you add or drop a course, allow 24 hours for your account summary to be updated. Tuition and fees statements are not mailed to students.

If you are sponsored by an organization who will pay your tuition and fees directly to UVic, please visit the Accounting Services website for instructions.

Incoming exchange students:  While at UVic, you will pay tuition to your home university, but you will be responsible for all other fees associated with your studies at UVic. These include fees for textbooks and course materials, a bus pass, a recreation pass, etc.

Graduate degree program students:  More information about tuition and fees is available on the Graduate Studies website.

TIP:  Be sure to pay your tuition and fees on time. Keep important dates and deadlines in mind. A penalty service charge will be added for late payments. Failure to pay tuition and fees on time may also result in cancellation of course registration and denial of services.

Living expenses

Living expenses include housing and utilities, food, clothing, personal care products and recreation for you and any family members who accompany you to Canada.

Costs associated with living in British Columbia (BC) are available on the Employment and Social Development Canada website. Look for Table 3: Student Living Allowances Regional Distribution - Actual Monthly Budget.

Keep in mind that your 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.

Visit the Student Awards and Financial Aid (SAFA) website for information about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities available to international students at UVic.

Graduate degree program students:  More information about funding opportunities is available on the Graduate Studies website.


Information about opportunities for international student employment can be found on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website. Please make sure you understand the restrictions associated with each opportunity, and do not work without the proper authorization. If you do, you may be asked to leave Canada.

Visit the Working in Canada page for information about applying for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), finding a job and filing an income tax return.

Courses & registration

The academic year

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

March June May - August September - December January - April
Registration for summer session courses begins. Registration for fall term and spring term courses begins. summer session winter session
UVic offers a four-month term as well as condensed, shorter terms with various start and end dates. UVic offers a four-month fall term. UVic offers a four-month spring term.

NetLink ID

You must have a NetLink ID to register for courses at UVic.

It is also important to create an email address using your NetLink ID so that you receive important messages from UVic. Important messages will include notifications about your registration date and time and your movement on waitlists.

Registration dates and times

All eligible students will be sent a message to their UVic email address when their registration date and time has been assigned. If you do not yet have a UVic email account, use your NetLink ID to create one.

You can also check your registration status using UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Registration tab. 

TIP:  It is very important to register for courses as soon as you are eligible. Most courses fill up quickly so students who register after their assigned registration date and time will have fewer options.

Course selection and program planning

Seek academic advice early and often, and refer to the list of terms used at UVic for help understanding our academic vocabulary.

Visit the UVic timetable to see upcoming course availability.

Undergraduate degree program students:  Consult the UVic Calendar for program requirements. When you have questions about course selection and program planning, contact an academic adviser.

Graduate degree program students:  Consult the UVic Calendar for program requirements. When you have questions about course selection and program planning, contact the graduate adviser or graduate secretary in your academic unit.

Incoming exchange students:  When you have questions about program requirements, contact your home university. When you have questions about course selection at UVic, contact ISS at .

Incoming visiting students:  When you have questions about program requirements, contact your home university. When you have questions about course selection at UVic, contact ISS at .

Registration support

At UVic, students register for courses by adding and dropping them in UVic My Page.

Review the instructions for course registration prior to your assigned registration date and time.

If you need assistance with adding and dropping courses phone 250-721-8142, email or visit the Welcome Centre.

Graduate degree program students:  Visit the Graduate Studies website for more information. If you need assistance, contact the graduate adviser or graduate secretary in your academic unit.

TIP:  Keep important dates and deadlines in mind when adding and dropping courses. Do not assume that your instructor will drop you from a course if you do not attend classes. You are responsible for your own registration.

Course load

Full-time status for undergraduate students is defined in the UVic Calendar. This definition applies to undergraduate degree program students, as well as incoming exchange students and incoming visiting students at the undergraduate level.

Full-time status for graduate students is defined in the UVic Calendar. This definition applies to graduate degree program students, as well as incoming exchange students and incoming visiting students at the graduate level.

TIP:  International students do not necessarily need to maintain full-time status at UVic for the purpose of their study permit; part-time status is sometimes considered acceptable. However, international students must maintain full-time status to be eligible for employment opportunities outlined on the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) website.

Class schedules

You can access your timetable and check classroom locations for each of your courses using UVic My Page in the Student Services section under the Registration tab.

You should attend all scheduled lectures, labs and tutorials listed in your timetable each week. If you do not attend the first week of classes, you may be dropped from courses or you may lose your spot on waitlists. If you are not able to attend the first week of classes, you must contact your instructors to confirm your registration.

Lots of movement will take place on waitlists during the first two weeks of term. If you are offered registration into a course, a message will be sent to your UVic email address. You must accept the offer before it expires or you will be dropped from the waitlist, so check your UVic email address every day if you are on a waitlist. If you do not yet have a UVic email account, use your NetLink ID to create one.

Exam timetables

Exam timetables are posted about two months before the exam period.

Travel plans should be made only after the final exam timetable has been posted, since the preliminary exam schedule may change.

Textbooks and course materials

The UVic Bookstore stocks textbooks and course materials.

You can create a customized shopping list and find answers to your questions on the UVic Bookstore website.

Used textbooks are also available on consignment at SUBtext in the Student Union Building.

Academic success

Learning Commons

Integrated academic support is available at the Learning Commons, located on the main floor of the Mearns Centre.

Services available include:

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, University Health Services or another health professional. In such cases, you may qualify for an academic concession.


The ombudsperson is an independent, imparial and confidential resource who assists in resolving student fairness issues and fostering respectful learning and working environments on campus.

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.

Student life

Student societies

Student societies at UVic are run by students for students.

Undergraduate students are members of the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) located in the Student Union Building.

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

TIP:  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.

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.


UVic email address

Be sure to create an email address using your NetLink ID so that you receive important messages from UVic. Important messages will include notifications about your registration date and time and your movement on waitlists.

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.

The major mobile phone providers in Victoria include Bell, Fido, Koodo Mobile, Rogers, Telus Mobility and Virgin Mobile. Research your options before making a decision.

Please read the ISS Mobile Phones handout or important information about choosing a mobile phone provider and comparing plans.

TIP:  If you will make many international calls, consider using calling cards. They are cheap and flexible. You can buy them at post offices, convenience stores and online. Ask other students from your country for advice about the best long distance calling rates. You may also wish to use internet programs such as Skype or Google Voice.

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 Heart Pharmacy, located in the Student Union Building.


Transit system

The transit system in Victoria operates seven days a week, 365 days a year, and buses to all areas of Victoria leave frequently from UVic.

Your UVic ONECard 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.


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.

Sustainable driving options are listed on the UVic website.

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


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.

Airport shuttle bus

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