FAQs on VIU’s 2021-22 Academic Year

With the support of BC’s Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, VIU is now planning for a safe return to on-campus instruction for Fall 2021. Below we answer the most frequently asked questions about how courses, programs, services and supports will be delivered during the 2021-22 academic year. Please note that this document addresses the Fall 2021 semester specifically and will be updated for Spring 2022 as more information becomes available.

Do you have a question that isn’t answered here? Please email students@viu.ca.  

Some of these FAQs reference the Go-Forward Guidelines, comprehensive health and safety guidelines for campus operations developed by post-secondary institutions in collaboration with the BC Centre for Disease Control, WorkSafeBC, the Deputy Provincial Health Officer, and key education partners and stakeholders. This document is being revised to guide institutions in their planning for a safe return to on-campus instruction this fall. 

Academic

Information about how most courses and programs is now available through the timetable system. See the next question for more details on delivery models. Please stay tuned to the Student Pulse enewsletter (back issues can be accessed on the VIU Blog) for more information on Fall 2021. You can also connect with us through students@viu.ca 

The Fall/Spring timetable, which is now available, indicates on a course by course basis whether the course is:  

  • In-person (face-to-face) 

  • Blended (online and in-person) synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time each week) 

  • Blended (online and in-person) asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule) 

  • Online synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time each week) 

  • Online asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule). 

Yes, VIU has always had some online and hybrid programming, which we will continue to offer. We expect these opportunities to be expanded this fall and going forward, as we have learned from our experiences during the pandemic that some programs and courses benefit from flexible delivery options. Details on course delivery is available through the timetable system 

The answer to this question could vary course by course. The timetable system shows whether the course is synchronous (you are required to attend a virtual component at a specific time) or asynchronous (you are not required to attend a virtual component at a specific time but can complete online course materials on your own schedule). Your professors will share more specific details on a course-by-course basis via email near the start of the semester.  

VIU will be making spaces available on our campuses to attend live Zoom lectures. We will have more information to share as health and safety plans for common areas are developed in the coming months.  

We are working on a plan to open up spaces for students to study in various locations on campus. The Library is currently the main study space on campus, but we expect opportunities to be expanded for the fall. We will have more information to share as health and safety plans for common areas are developed in the coming months.  

We will have more information to share as health and safety plans are developed. 

We will have more information to share about this in coming months, including a dedicated webpage. The Student Pulse enewsletter will continue to inform students about supports available and how to access them.  

This will depend on whether your courses are fully online or have some face-to-face components. Please see the course timetable, which became available on April 26, for more details.  

The answer to this question could vary course by course. More details will be available by October 31. 

More details will be available before the start of the Fall semester. 

More details will be available before the start of the Fall semester. 

More details will be available before the start of the Fall semester. 

We anticipate that most courses will be offered in a face-to-face format; however, we have learned a lot over the past year of delivering many courses and programs online and we expect that moving forward the number of blended or fully online course offerings will remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.   

Application deadlines have been reviewed on a program-by-program basis. Each program description in the online Calendar has up-to-date information under the heading, “Start Date and Application Deadlines.”

We have learned a lot over the past year and will be offering more courses in a fully online delivery method; however, many courses will be fully delivered face-to-face, and in those cases it will not be possible to attend virtually.  

Health & Safety

Post-secondary institutions are working together and with the Provincial Health Office to revise the Go-Forward Guidelines. VIU will revise its current COVID Health & Safety guidelines to align with these. Once our health and safety protocols have been revised, we will launch a public awareness campaign to familiarize our community with the protocols. This campaign will start in August. Please also stay tuned to our COVID information and updates website for details.  

If you are sick you are expected to stay home until your symptoms subside. Your instructors will make accommodations for missed work due to illness. 

VIU works directly with Island Health to manage exposures and/or outbreaks. VIU’s Health and Safety team has a process in place if there is an outbreak on campus. We will continue to work with Island Health to ensure we fully support our community in our return to campus in Fall 2021. The plan is based on the foundational principle of keeping our students and employees safe and healthy and it will ensure timely and relevant communications are delivered regarding exposures and/or outbreaks. 

At this time the answer is yes. Please see our Mask Protocol page for more details. Any change to these guidelines will follow the advice of BC’s Public Health Officer and the Go Forward Guidelines for post-secondary institutions. 

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 greatly reduces your chances of getting really sick if you are exposed to the virus. However, you can still pass the virus on to others, including individuals who are unable to get the vaccine. We all need to do our part to protect each other.  

You will be able to wear your own masks when on campus. If you do forget your mask, they are available at the Welcome Centre or the Campus Store. As we complete our health and safety planning for the fall, we will update this information as needed. 

Currently, international students are required to quarantine upon entry to Canada. Here are our current quarantine requirements. Moving forward we will be relying on guidelines from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). 

While we support people being vaccinated against COVID-19, vaccines will not be mandatory to be present on campuses or in facilities. We are working hard on a comprehensive health and safety plan to support our return to campus and as soon as we have more details we will share them. 

VIU will continue to work within the parameters set out by WorksafeBC around indoor air quality for all occupied spaces. This includes any additional requirements in response to the COVID-19 virus. A review of VIU spaces has been undertaken by Facilities. Occupancy will not be allowed in spaces that do not meet or exceed these safety requirements. 

Technology

Yes - the VIU Library has laptops and other equipment available for loan. Visit the Equipment Loan website for more details. 

Housing

VIU Residences is currently operating with single-room occupancy only. Looking forward to the fall semester, we will be assessing the needs, spaces and availability of buildings/rooms throughout the summer. To safely accommodate more people in Residence, we will continue to work with public health officials on a safety plan that includes occupancy levels, quarantine arrangements for international students, isolation requirements and options for on-site programming. Applications are currently open, and we recommend applying as soon as possible for the fall. We will be communicating with all applicants if double occupancy and/or more rooms become available. Visit VIU Residences for more information.  

There are several options for students looking to live off-campus. Long-term accommodation options can be found on Places4Students or other external sources such as Nanaimo Rentals and Nanaimo Housing Rentals Facebook groups. If you are hoping to find a place to live without making any long-term commitment, you can choose from a number of Hotels/Hostels in the Nanaimo Community. Contact IE.Housing@viu.ca to discuss your options! 

Food, Shopping and Transportation

As the on-campus population begins to climb again, additional services will be opened in support of the increased demandUpdated schedules for each service will be posted well in advance of a return to campus. Currently, the campus store remains open and has grab and go food options available. 

This is being reviewed once we know approximately how many people will be returning to campus. More flexible options are currently being explored. More information will be available prior to the return to campus.  

International Students

he Canadian government has announced changes that will make travelling to Canada to begin your studies at an approved institution like VIU easier. Information and resources regarding travelling to Canada is likely to change in the weeks and months to come and we encourage students stay connected and engaged with VIU as we update information as it becomes available.   

  

Currently all students new and returning to Canada are subject to CBSA review and are required to quarantine (self-isolate) for 14 days, three of those days at a government-approved facility.   

  

VIU is offering two quarantine options:  

·      theVIU Residence Quarantine (Self-Isolation) Programand   

·      theLanguages Canada  Study Safe Corridor TRAVEL SAFEprogram.  
  

Before making any travel arrangements it is important for you to:   

·      Carefully read theVIU Quarantine (Self-Isolation) Resource Guide and Expectationswhich includes a travel planning checklist to fill out BEFORE you travel to Canada.   

·      Consider your longer-term housing plans. Do you plan to live on campus in the student dormitories, participate in the VIU Homestay program with a Canadian family, or live off campus? Some of these options have deadlines for applications, and guidelines for safe living. The off-campus housing market in Nanaimo has a low vacancy rate so we encourage planning in advance. Please check out the information on our Housing Options homepage to choose your right fit 

  

TheVIU Quarantine (Self-Isolation) Resource Guide includes important information aboutFederalandProvinciallegal requirements and VIU’s expectations regarding quarantine (self-isolation). It is updated with current immigration information, COVID-19 expectations, pre-arrival planning, travel requirements, accommodation options and more. Please carefully read this guide so you are aware of the information/documents that you must submit to VIU and to Canadian Government agencies.    

  

After arranging your quarantine, register it with VIU by submitting your VIU International Student Quarantine (Self-isolation) Planning and Registration Form to ie.housing@viu.ca. For more information and resources on planning your quarantine (self-isolation), please visit the VIU Self-Isolation Program website.   

All international students attending VIU face-to-face must have a valid study permit. We highly encourage you to apply for a study permit as soon as possible. Information about how courses and programs will be delivered will be available through the timetable system on April 26. 

We are pleased to share that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has announced new measures that will provide more flexibility for international students. The new measures will allow international students to complete up to 100% of their programs online from outside of Canada, while still remaining eligible for a post-graduate work permit.  

This means that if you were hoping to work in Canada after graduation, you can still do so even if your program was online and you did not travel to Canada to study. Wondering if your program will be online this fall? Information about how courses and programs will be delivered will be available through the timetable system on April 26. 

To learn more, please read the updatedPost-Graduate Work Permit eligibilityinformation and bookmark ourCOVID-19 updates for international students page to stay up to date with what’s happening at VIU.  

Since VIU’s immigration advisors are not able to encompass the specific requirements of VISA Applications Centres (VAC) of each country, unfortunately it is not possible to provide support outside of Canada. Once you are in Canada, our Immigration Advisors can assist you in your study and work-related applications.  

Unfortunately, Immigration Advisors or VIU employees are unable to intervene in expediting applications.  

Travel restrictions are not unique to your country; Canada has also implemented travel restrictions. However, there are some exceptionsSee theIRCC and CBSAwebsites for details about exceptions.  

Yes, depending on your program of study. If you have already applied to VIU please contactStudy@viu.cafor details specific to your situation. If you are considering VIU but have not yet applied please contact WorldVIU@viu.ca  

Information about how courses and programs will be delivered will be available through the timetable system on April 26. If your courses are all delivered online, it is possible to study from your home country. We strongly recommend that you apply for your study permit immediately upon receiving your letter of acceptance from VIU, as a study permit to start face-to-face classes will be required. 

Yes. If you are living in BC during the pandemic, you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the provincial government's vaccination program. Visit this ImmunizeBC page for more information and details on how to register.

Travel

All Canadians are asked to avoid non-essential travel outside the country until further notice. Learn more on the Global Affairs Travel Advice and Advisories homepage.  

Please visit the COVID-19 Updates for International Students website for more details on travelling to Canada to begin your studies at VIU.  Also see Question #1 in the International Students section.

All VIU-sanctioned, non-essential employee and student travel outside of Canada, including to the United States, is restricted for the foreseeable future. 

  • For international travel involving students, the recommended extension to the current restriction is for the Fall 2021 term. 

  • For VIU-sanctioned travel outside of Canada involving employees, including to the United States, this restriction is recommended until at least December 31, 2021. 

 

VIU will review these restrictions for the Spring 2022 semester by September 17, 2021, or in the event that the Government of Canada’s Official Global Travel Advisory asking Canadians to “avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada” is lifted. VIU encourages employees and students to consider delaying or cancelling all personal non-essential travel outside of Canada, in accordance with ongoing travel advisories. Individuals should monitor and follow Government of Canada/host country travel advisories, as well as their own insurance providers’ policies for regular updates. If students or employees choose to travel internationally for personal reasons, including to the United States, they must follow self-quarantine for 14 days at their own cost: 

 

  • Employees can choose to take leave without pay, use vacation time and may be able to work from home with their supervisor’s approval. 

  • Students can review VIU’s options for self-isolation and quarantine.  Those who reside in VIU Residences or VIU Homestay will need to check if they are able to self-isolate there. If they are unable to, they will have to find their own accommodation for the self-isolation period, which would be at their own cost. 

Virtual opportunities exist for students; however, all non-essential outbound international travel is currently on hold (see VIU's policy above). The VIU Education Abroad office continues to support VIU students in planning for future international mobility programs. Weekly drop-in sessions are offered and individual appointments are available upon request by email (EdAbroad@viu.ca). Learn more about VIU Education Abroad program updates and drop-in Zoom sessions. VIU students may apply to participate in virtual exchange programs, field schools, internships and summer programs, where available. These experiences provide interesting opportunities to explore new perspectives from home while earning credits that can be applied towards VIU degrees.  

 

The Education Abroad office continues to also support Inbound Exchange students, who may participate in programs, through virtual or hybrid delivery where available. 

Contact EdAbroad@viu.ca for more information.