Preparing for your exchange

For the several months after you have been selected for exchange, you'll work closely with International Student Services (ISS) preparing for your departure and upcoming cultural and academic experience. We'll be there to help you at every step of the process.

Step 1 - Submit Administrative Fee, Exchange Contract and Waiver

2 - 3 weeks after the application deadline, we will confirm your application has been received and notify you if you have been selected to participate in exchange.  If you have not heard from us by this time, please contact our office: goglobal@uvic.ca

After you are accepted, you will be asked to submit the following to the International Student Services UVC B272 on or before Thursday, March 29, 2018.

1) Exchange Administration Fee

After you have been notified by email that you are accepted, you are required to pay a non-refundable administration fee of $50. This fee can be paid, by ONECard only, in the International Student Centre at UVC B272. Your application cannot proceed until this fee is paid.  This fee helps us provide services to UVic exchange students, such as processing your application and other necessary forms to your host institution.

2) Exchange Contract and Waiver

a)  Signed exchange contract

An exchange contract is an agreement between you and UVic that covers the details of the exchange. For example, by signing the exchange contract you promise to complete all required payments and to act responsibly while overseas.

b) Signed waiver

A waiver is an agreement where you receive the right to participate in the exchange, while promising not to lay a legal claim against UVic for injury or other harm. All students must sign a waiver.

Step 2 - Attend Mandatory Sessions

All Sessions are Mandatory

1) Pre-Departure Orientation

  • You will learn about the next steps and receive your official UVic ISS Exchange Program confirmation letter.
  • An introduction to cultural awareness and adaptation issues.
  • A discussion of important safety and risk management strategies.
  • A chance to connect and share experiences, travel tips, and itineraries with other UVic students who are going overseas or who have already returned from their exchange abroad.

2) Go Global Advisory 

This session will cover very important academic content regarding your fees, exchange courses, credit and effects on your academic record.

Step 3 - Apply to the Host Institution

After you have been accepted by ISS Exchange, and subsequently nominated to the partner university, you will be required to complete the application process relating to that host univeristy. ISS will discuss this process at the mandatory Advisory Session

Each host institution has its own application procedures, and you must complete all requirements, including filling out all necessary forms. International Student Services will provide you with the required forms or instructions and we will assist in completing them, if you need help.

Applying to host institutions generally calls for you to complete the following tasks by the host institutions deadline:

  • Complete host institution application form, including course selection.
  • Complete host university housing form, if applicable.
  • Order transcripts from non-UVic post-secondary institution, if applicable.
  • Complete host university required health examination, if applicable.
  • Submit all forms and required documents to the partner's International Office.

You will receive a letter of acceptance or confirmation from your host university either directly or via International Student Services. This confirmation will be required to apply for your student visa. This may take a few weeks.

Please note: International Student Services will order UVic transcripts for you. If you have attended another institution in the pursuit of your academic degree and you are required to include those transcripts with your host institution's application, you are responsible for obtaining them from the other institution to include with your UVic transcript.

Step 4 - Organize your Academic Documents

You will recieve a number of documents which will be important for you to carry with you.  Over the next months, assemble your documents before you travel to your overseas destination.

Make a copy of your letter of acceptance or confirmation of enrolment

Your host university issues this document once you have been admitted to the institution for the specified period and academic program. This letter will be required for the issuance of a student visa. Take a photocopy of this letter with you when you travel.

Make copies of transcripts

We recommend you take photocopied transcripts from UVic and all other post-secondary institutions you have attended. It may be necessary, for instance, to show that you have completed the pre-requisite for a course you want. A copy of your UVic academic record can be downloaded through My Page.

Make a copy of International Student Services exchange confirmation letter

International Student Services will give you an exchange confirmation letter indicating that you will be paying your tuition fees at UVic.

This should accompany your application for your student visa. The purpose is to reduce the amount of funds that you are required to have before a visa is issued. Make a copy of this letter to take with you.

Please note: International Student Services will be glad to photocopy any relevant documents for you.

Step 5 - Obtain your Travel Documents

Before you set off on your voyage, you must have the appropriate travel documents.

Begin the process early, preferably three or four months in advance of your departure date. In addition, have a very clear understanding of the additional documentation necessary for your destination country.

All travel arrangements and documents are your sole responsibility.

Passport

A valid passport is necessary when entering or leaving most countries. It can take four weeks or longer to obtain a passport, so give yourself lots of time. Passports are issued by Passport Canada. The Victoria office is located on the third floor of the Bay Centre. If you already have a passport, make sure it will not expire while you are away (it should not expire for at least 6 months upon your return from exchange).

Student visa

Student authorization is often required to study in another country.

A student visa is an endorsement made on a passport by appropriate authorities of the country you will be visiting. It that states your passport has been examined and you have formal approval to enter the country for a specified period of time. Therefore, you will need an up-to-date passport to obtain a student visa.

To obtain a visa, contact the embassy or consular office of the country in which you will be studying, or view their website. You can also check Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada for more details.

You might need documents in addition to a passport and visa to enter the host country. The consulate for the country in which you are going to study can tell you exactly what documents are required. These may include:

  • Medical certificates
  • Immunization records
  • Birth certificate
  • Letter of admission to a university in the host country
  • Exchange confirmation letter

Health and immunization requirements will differ for each country. Keep in mind that these documents can take some time to acquire.

Proof of sufficient funds

Some institutions and visa applications require a record of sufficient funds to support yourself while you visit a foreign country. Such proof may include a copy of your bank statement or other evidence of funds.

Travel arrangements

Do not book flights or other travel that cannot be changed until you have received your letter of admission from your host institution and your student visa from the country’s immigration department.

We recommend you use a travel agent for your travel arrangments.

International driving permit (optional)

Some countries recognize a driving permit from Canada, some accept an international licence, and some require you to take a test and obtain a licence in their country. An international driving permit is also a useful primary source of identification in other countries.

You can apply for an international driving permit from your local BC Automobile Association (BCAA) office. You do not need to be a BCAA member to obtain a permit.

Two passport-sized photographs are required which may be taken at the BCAA office at the time of application. You must also take your current Canadian driver's licence with you when you apply.

Tip: Be sure to make two copies of all documents. Take one set of copies with you and leave the other set in Canada with your parents, guardians or other person who has "power of attorney" for you. This will facilitate the replacement of applicable documents should it become necessary.

Step 6 - Arrange your Payments and Funds

Pay UVic tuition

You will pay UVic tuition for the academic year or term of the exchange before departure. UVic tuition fee payment deadlines are September 30 and January 31. Make arrangements to pay for your second term while you are away on a full academic year.

You will retain registered status at UVic while you are away through automatic registration in a course called Approved Exchange Program. The course number is EXCH001 and the section number is X01. This course will cause the correct assessment of 15 units or 7.5 units worth of tuition fees plus the UVSS and student activity fees.

Realize that you might not get full credit value for fees paid. The tuition fee is for the entire exchange experience and covers the cost of the courses taken by the incoming student.

It is not based on the number of courses you take, nor on the transfer credit that you will receive. In some countries, domestic students are not charged fees and the exchange may look unbalanced. However, those countries do charge international student fees which are waived for you.

Pay debts to UVic

Make sure you pay all outstanding debts to UVic, including parking and library fines.

Assign power of attorney

If you receive a student loan, you must give someone "power of attorney." This person will claim the loan on your behalf while you are away.

A power of attorney is a document through which you give authority to your "attorney in fact" (who need not be a lawyer) to act on your behalf. Power of attorney forms can be obtained through UVic's Student Awards and Financial Aid office.

The scope of the power granted can be quite limited or almost unlimited. Giving someone your power of attorney can make business or financial transactions much easier, simply by allowing that person to act on your behalf while you are away.

Arrange funding

Be sure your finances are in order before you leave. This can help prevent many headaches and disappointments.

You will most likely open a bank account while overseas. One easy way of transferring your funds to this account is to take traveller's cheques or a bank draft. You may also make arrangements to have money transferred directly from a Canadian financial institution to your foreign bank account. There is usually a $40 fee to transfer funds.

If you use debit cards to withdraw cash, be sure you have a 4 digit pin number. Many overseas bank machines do not accept 5 digit pin numbers. Also you may want to increase your daily withdrawal limit before you go, because you will be charged at least a $5.00 fee per withdrawal transaction.

Arrange emergency funds

You may need some currency when you first arrive and for a few days while you establish a bank account. It would also be a good idea to have instant access to emergency funds, such as a credit card, debit card or traveller's cheques.

Step 7 - Plan for your Health and Safety

BC Medical Services Plan (MSP)

You may remain eligible for British Columbia MSP coverage if you are registered full time at an accredited institution. You may also be covered by your parents' plan if they are BC residents. Be aware that you will still need additional health and accident coverage.

Health and accident insurance

Health insurance additional to the MSP coverage is mandatory. If you travel without insurance, you accept the responsibility for all medical expenses that you incur during your exchange.

You must make sure that your health insurance covers you during travel, as well as during your stay in the other country. Your insurance should be comprehensive enough to cover any medical/dental costs you may incur during your stay out of Canada. In some cases, the exchange institution will require that you participate in their health insurance coverage.

Insurance is available from banks, travel agents, and insurance companies. If your family already buys insurance from a company that they know and trust, that may be the first company that you approach. Get several quotes for your insurance, and compare coverage and price.

Find a company that will insure you for the whole period of your visit, and will also allow you to extend your coverage while you're out of the country (in case you decide to stay a bit longer).

Each country may have different health insurance requirements. In the UK, for example, if you are a full-time student and in the country for more than six months, you are covered by the national health plan.

In Australia, you must buy a mandatory package. In all cases, you must purchase short-term travel insurance for coverage during your journey and for the period before their long-term coverage becomes effective.

UVSS extended health and dental insurance

You are automatically charged for University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) extended health insurance with your exchange tuition fees.

This insurance has a travel component. You can make special arrangements for this insurance to cover an additional 120 days before and after your program dates by presenting the acceptance letter from your host institution and a letter from the International Office to the UVSS.

It is your responsibility to read about what the UVSS insurance plan offers, and decide if it is sufficient to cover your particular health care needs in your particular destination. You may decide that you need additional coverage from a private plan.

If you buy your own insurance, it may occur to you to opt out of the UVSS health insurance. HOWEVER, opting out of the UVSS insurance is only allowed if you can demonstrate that you have other medical coverage for the whole 12-month period (for example, if your parents have you covered on their extended medical plan through their workplace). Being an exchange student is NOT accepted as a reason to opt out, even if you buy your own private insurance.

Immunization

You may have arranged for immunization when you applied for your visa, but you may want to obtain additional immunization.

This might apply if you plan to travel to other countries before or after your exchange period. Check the following websites for up-to-date information on vaccination recommendations for your destination:

Dental and medical check-ups

Some countries require medical examinations for visa purposes. You may want to make sure you are in good health, especially dental, before you leave the fine medical services in Canada.

Medication

Prescription medications may be difficult to find and may be more expensive in foreign countries, so it would be wise to take what you need with you. Keep them in their original packages, with labels, to avoid problems with customs inspections at the border.

International Office at Host Institution

We suggest you record and take with you contact information for the host institution, including the telephone number and e-mail address of their international exchange coordinator. International Student Services can help you obtain this information.

Canadian Consulate

If you encounter any legal trouble or require other assistance while overseas, you will benefit from contacting the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consulate.

In the interest of your own safety, we suggest you record the address, phone number, and fax number of the nearest Canadian Embassy or Consular Office to your host institution. Registration at the Embassy or Consular Office is highly recommended, and has many benefits.

Step 8 - Plan Ahead for your Return to UVic

There are a number of things you can do before going overseas that will help when you return.

Gather your course materials from your planned exchange courses

While on exchange, you will need to collect the following information for each course:

  • Detailed course description in English or French
  • Contact hours for each course (e.g. total number of hours in class, tutorials and labs)
  • Course syllabus/description
  • Reading lists, essay topics, test questions and project assignments

TIP: It is your responsibility to collect the above information before you leave the host institution. It is much more difficult to obtain course material from your overseas professors once you have returned to UVic.

Request your official transcripts from the partner institution

Once you finish your courses abroad, arrange for your Official Transcript in English or French to be sent to International Student Services. Payment will not be required. Partner institutions are aware of their need for the submission of a transcript to UVic, but not all have an automatic process.

Drop UVic courses

If you have registered for any courses at UVic, and will be away on an exchange, be sure to officially drop these courses before you leave.  We will put a code on your record called "exchange" which can only be put on once your term courses are dropped.  Your exchange courses will be posted AFTER your academic record is recieved from the partner and reviewed by UVic.

Register for UVic courses as usual for when you plan to return

If you're leaving in September and will be returning to UVic for the January session, you must register for your January courses before you go overseas.

If you're participating in a one-semester exchange that commences in the fall, you should register for the spring term during the regular web registration period.

Year-long exchanges may require you to complete your UVic registration while you are away on exchange. If you are on exchange during the regular June registration period and you plan to return to UVic for the following fall semester, then you will need to register via web registration while you are away.

If you are on a one-year exchange that starts in the Spring, you must remember to make arrangements for your UVic fall term fees to be paid by the September fee deadline.