International students

You have come from outside Canada to study at UVic, and we are happy that you’re here! We know that there are many post-secondary institutions to choose from, and we are thrilled that you have decided to join the UVic community.

As an international student, you may have extra questions. We are here to help you find the answers. We want to make your transition to UVic as smooth as possible.

Academic advisers can help you

Please note: advisers can’t register you in (or drop you from) courses—you'll have to do this yourself. For more information on our registration system, as well as guided tutorials, see UVic's course registration and course timetable pages.

Course and program planning

As an international student, we recommend that you contact the Academic Advising Centre and the International Centre for Students while you are planning your degree and that you check in regularly throughout your degree.

We recommend that you meet with an academic adviser at least once per year. At UVic, students are responsible for booking their own appointments, so you will need to contact the Academic Advising Centre to book an appointment yourself.

We also recommend that you review the choose & plan your program section of our website as soon as possible. Students often find the program planning worksheets especially helpful.

Success in the classroom

Academic success requires hard work and good habits. Read through the tips below to ensure that you’re on the right track.

Attend classes

Be sure to attend all your lectures, labs and tutorials. Getting notes from other students is not as effective as being in the class and listening to the lecture first hand.

Get to know your instructors

Your instructors and teaching assistants are there to help you. Connecting with them can help you feel more confident in class and more comfortable asking for help if you need it.

Know your timeline for assignments and tests

You will receive a syllabus for every course that you take. This syllabus will state the course components, methods of evaluation and tests and assignments throughout the course. Read each of your course syllabi carefully so that you can plan ahead and avoid surprises.

Understand expectations

Academic integrity requires commitment to honesty, trust, fairness, respect and responsibility. UVic takes academic integrity seriously. Be sure to review UVic’s Policy on Academic Integrity before starting classes.

Learn to cite sources properly

University courses require a significant amount of writing. You may lose marks if you do not cite your research sources properly, and you may also be accused of plagiarism. UVic offers citation help resources, and librarians are available to assist you with questions.

Ask for help early

There are many resources available to you, including your instructor’s office hours, the Centre for Academic Communication and the Math and Stats Assistance Centre. Please review our get advice & find support page to connect with the resources you need.

Making the most of your time at UVic

A rewarding university experience consists of more than academic success alone. Read through the tips below to discover some of the opportunities and supports available to you at UVic.

Create community

Forming new friendships and connections at university can make the whole experience more enjoyable. Here are some ways to get involved in student life and meet new people:

  • clubs and course unions can be a great way to relax, try new things and create friendships
  • the UVic Global Community creates opportunities for you to share perspectives, celebrate diversity and foster intercultural connections
  • UVic events also provide a wide range of opportunities for you to get involved

Consider an exchange

UVic offers many exchange program opportunities for you to explore during your degree. If an exchange program interests you, we encourage you to review available programs. For more information, please contact the helpful staff at the International Centre for Students.

Join a co-op program

Co-operative education (co-op) can be a great way to learn new skills, make connections, gain work experience and earn money during your degree. If you are interested in exploring UVic’s co-op opportunities, please visit the Co-op Program webpage or contact the Co-op Program staff.

Reach out for support

University can be a challenging transition period. If you would like to chat with someone who can help you navigate student life, adjust to Canadian culture, or discuss any challenges you are facing, please contact UVic’s Student Wellness Centre. Their trained professional counsellors can provide resources, strategies, advice and more.

My parents' expectations regarding my university experience are different from my own. How do I talk to them about this conflict?

It is normal for parents, guardians and supporters to have hopes and plans for your post-secondary education. Generally, they want to help, and they want the best for you. Sometimes, however, it can be difficult to discuss your plans or interests if they differ from your parents’ expectations.

We have resources that can help you navigate these challenging conversations. A great place to start is with the Student Wellness Centre. Counsellors have experience assisting students with managing expectations and communicating effectively with parents and supporters.

Additional support services are available on our find support page.

What is academic standing and why does it matter?

Academic standing refers to your grade point average for each session. You are required to maintain an average of at least 2.0 ("C") to avoid being placed on academic probation. If you achieve a sessional GPA of less than 2.0 for two consecutive sessions, you will be required to withdraw from UVic.

Read the following definitions to ensure that you understand these important terms.

Session

At UVic, there are two academic sessions per year:

  • the Winter Session runs from September-April, and it includes two terms (Term 1, September-December and Term 2, January-April)
  • the Summer Session runs from May-August, and it is made up of seven overlapping terms

Grade Point Average (GPA)

A student’s grade point is a numerical value given to letter grades (see the University of Victoria Legend). The grade point average is the average of these values over a designated period of time, such as the Winter Session (see the grade point average calculations page).

If you are concerned that you might achieve a GPA of below 2.0, please contact the Academic Advising Centre by email at . We would be happy to meet with you and answer your questions.

How many courses should I take at a time? Should I take extra courses so I can finish my degree faster?

“Course load” refers to how many courses a student takes during a term. It is important for you to consider your course load. Your decision regarding how many courses to take depends on many factors, such as

  • study permit requirements,
  • student loan or scholarship requirements,
  • residence requirements,
  • varsity athlete requirements,
  • academic program requirements,
  • future graduate or professional school requirements,
  • study habits,
  • work-life balance,
  • overall well-being, and
  • other relevant considerations.

A full-time course load at UVic is commonly four or five 1.5 unit courses per term (6-7.5 units) during the Winter Session.

We suggest that you take no more than five 1.5-unit courses per term. If you have any questions about their course load, we recommend meeting with an academic adviser to discuss their options. You can set up a meeting with an adviser by emailing .

Remember: many students take more than four years to complete their degrees. We recommend setting yourself up for success by not taking on too many courses.

When do I register for courses? Do I have a specific registration date and time?

Registration typically opens for the Winter Session in mid-June through July and for the Summer Session in mid-March.

About two to three weeks prior to your registration date, you will receive an email from Undergraduate Records outlining when you will be able to access the registration system and register for courses. Be sure to monitor your email inbox closely during this time. We recommend that you register at your assigned time to ensure your access to the best course options available.

Please note: classes fill up quickly, so please do not forget to register for both first (Fall) term and second (Spring) term courses when you receive your registration date for the Winter Session.

Can I finish my degree faster by taking summer courses?

Yes, it is possible to take courses in the Summer Session (May-August), which may allow you to complete your degree more quickly. However, note that not all courses are offered in the summer. Also be aware that Summer Session courses will likely be shorter in duration and therefore more intense than Winter Session courses.

It is important that you consider course load and try not to overload yourself (while still fulfilling any requirements you have, such as study permits or student loans). Please speak with an academic adviser if you have questions about summer courses.

Can my parents or a friend join me for an academic advising appointment?

Yes, you can have parents or friends accompany you during an academic advising appointment; however, you need to give permission for others to attend by completing the Consent to Participate in an Advising Consultation form prior to your appointment.

Do I have to take an English course as part of my degree program? If yes, which course should I take?

All students at UVic must satisfy the academic writing requirement (AWR). If English is not your first language, we recommend that you take the online academic writing self-placement questionnaire before you register for classes. This questionnaire will help you determine which AWR-designated course you should take.

English is not my first language, and I struggle to keep up with the speed of the lectures and the amount of course readings. What should I do?

We recommend reaching out to your instructor to discuss your challenges with the course. Your instructor may have suggestions, alternative options, or resources they can provide. You may also wish to connect with UVic’s Learning Assistance Program, the Learning Strategies Program, or the Centre for Academic Communication for additional help and support.

Because English is not my first language, may I have extra time to complete my exams?

UVic does not have a policy that allows international students to take extra time in completing their exams. We suggest speaking with your instructor about your concerns and asking if there are any options or alternative arrangements that could be made to help you succeed.