Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Students - Fall 2020

Academics

Student life

Housing

Food, Shopping & Transportation

Payments

International Students

 

ACADEMICS

What will my classes look like this fall?  

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and guidelines issued by our government around physical distancing and hygiene practices, VIU will be using a hybrid model of education delivery this fall. In order to prioritize the safety and well-being of all students and employees, all British Columbia (BC) public post-secondary institutions have been asked to follow an alternate delivery model that reduces on campus delivery. We are busy planning the exact details of what this will look like for our different programs and services and more information will be available by June 8, 2020. Program chairs will contact registered students directly with a breakdown of what this will look like on a program-by-program basis.

 What is a hybrid model of education delivery?

A hybrid model takes advantage of the best features of both face-to-face and online learning. At VIU, our professors, program chairs and deans are hard at work planning what this will look like, and it will involve a combination of online technologies for the theory portions of learning, with any hands-on, experiential and/or skills-based components of courses designed in a way that ensures the safety of students and instructors and follows public health guidelines. We will release more details on what this looks like by June 8, 2020.

 

Will courses taught by alternate delivery be offered as live classes or recorded lectures?

This will vary depending on the program or course, but for many courses, it will likely be a mixture of both. A diversity of student needs ‒ including varying levels of access to technology, different time zones, etc. ‒ are being considered. More details will be released by June 8, 2020. 

 

What about trades and other hands-on courses that rely heavily on skills-based competencies? 

As noted above, VIU will be using a hybrid model of education delivery this fall, including for trades and other hands-on programs and courses. We are busy planning the exact details of what this will look like for our different programs and services and more information will be available by June 8, 2020. 

 

Will I be able to do this from outside Nanaimo/outside of Canada?

The online components of courses should be accessible from most locations. A diversity of student needs ‒ including varying levels of access to technology, different time zones, etc. ‒ are being considered. More details will be released by June 8, 2020. 

 

Will I still have to write an in-person final exam? 

Similar to our Spring and Summer sessions, each instructor will determine how learning will be assessed at the end of the semester, with consideration of COVID-related guidelines put forward by VIU, our federal and provincial governments, and the public health office, which limit large gatherings. A diversity of student needs ‒ including varying levels of access to technology, different time zones, etc. ‒ are being considered. More details will be available through your instructors in the fall. 

 

Will I still have access to support services like advising, counselling, the library and information technology services? 

Yes. VIU will continue to deliver all of its high-quality, student-focused services. One-on-one access to our counsellors, advisors, success coach, tutors, librarians, research assistants and much, much more are available via alternative formats. Please check out what's opened and closed at VIU, which is updated on a regular basis, for information on how to access all of our support services. 

 

How will I get my textbooks and other supplies?

While our physical bookstores are currently closed, our online store is open for business with new items added to the website each week. The Campus Store is offering free shipping within Canada for course material web orders and a store pick-up option for web orders. Many instructors are exploring e-book options. More information regarding the Campus Store.

 

Will co-ops and internships still happen? 

Yes, many of them will continue in an alternative format. Each program will determine what works for their requirements. Please contact your instructor or program chair for more details after June 8, 2020. 

  

When will VIU open for in-person classes?

Universities and other public organizations across British Columbia are awaiting direction from provincial and federal governments and the public health office. Based on directions from the Public Health Officer so far, it looks like it will be a phased approach to delivering in-person learning and on-campus services. As soon as we know more, we will let everyone know. 

 

STUDENT LIFE

How will I make friends and have fun at VIU this fall? 

Different groups on campus, including our Fun@VIU committee, are organizing fun virtual events for everyone, from Zoom Zumba, to coffee chats, to online workouts and Q&As with some of our staff and students. Expect these opportunities to grow and get even better for the fall semester. Check out VIU Events and the VIU Students’ Union’s mobile phone app to get an idea of the kinds of activities we are doing to stay connected and have fun. 

 

HOUSING

Am I going to be able to stay in VIU housing? 

VIU Residences and the VIU Homestay program both remain open and occupied. The residence facilities and our homestay families are following public health guidelines, including ensuring single occupancy, enhanced cleaning standards and physical distancing measures. Residence is actively engaged in planning for the fall, working with the Public Health Office to ensure we have a robust plan in place that follows the most current guidelines to ensure the safety of residents and the resilience of the community in the event of an illness. Priority will be given to current residents and then to new students who qualify for the first-year guarantee.

 

FOOD, SHOPPING & TRANSPORTATION

Will food and other services/retail be open on campus? 

Yes, we currently have a limited convenience store in Building 300 (the Upper Cafeteria) at the Nanaimo campus. At the Cowichan campus, Gibby’s Cafe is offering take-out services. For all campuses, nearby shops and restaurants are also offering take-out and delivery options. We expect more food and other services to be open on all campuses by the fall. More details to follow.

 

PAYMENTS

Do I still have to pay my Student Activity Fee (Ancillary Fee)?

Yes. Services and supports are still being offered through alternate means. We are excited to offer new interactive online services.

  

Are tuition deadlines the same? 

Yes. See tuition deadlines for domestic students for more details; international students can go tuition deadlines for international students for more details.

 

Will I be financially penalized for switching to another institution?

We would love you to stay at VIU and hope you will reconsider. If your plans do change, however, your VIU tuition deposit is non-refundable. If you are a continuing VIU student and were not required to pay a tuition deposit, you will not incur any financial obligation to VIU if you officially withdraw from all classes before the Fall Semester begins.

 

When do I have to decide and pay for the Fall 2020 semester?

Registration for Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 courses takes place in May for academic classes, and we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity then because many classes are expected to fill up early.   

  • Continuing students ‒ the usual deadlines apply and can be accessed here. For most undergraduate academic programs, Fall Semester fees are due on September 22. Trades/Vocational programs, and Graduate programs often have earlier deadlines, which would be included in your offer of admission.
  • New students, or students who have switched to a new program, are asked to pay a tuition deposit by the deadline included in your offer of admission. 
  • Trades/Vocational and Graduate programs often have earlier deadlines, which are noted in your offer of admission.

 

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

Can I defer my start date for when you offer in-person classes?  

In many cases yes. Please see the specific COVID-19 International COVID-19 International refund and deferral policy, updated May 11, 2020. 

 

If I defer to January 2021, will in-person classes be offered then?

Universities and other institutions across British Columbia are awaiting direction from provincial and federal governments and the public health office on returning to a face-to-face delivery model for learning and other services. As soon as we know more, we will let everyone know. 

 

Can I still come to Canada to live while studying online?

Great question. We will welcome students to Nanaimo as soon as Canadian Borders are open and travel arrangements can be made. We rely on provincial and federal guidelines. As soon as we know more, we will let everyone know. 

 

If my program is completely online and I stay home, will classes be offered at an appropriate time that considers the different time zones?

A diversity of student needs - including varying levels of access to technology, different time zones, etc. - are being considered. More specific details on what our hybrid delivery model looks like on a program-by-program basis will be available by June 8, 2020.

 

Do I need a study permit to take online classes?  

The hybrid model of delivery is a temporary measure during COVID-19. All international students attending VIU face-face must have a valid study permit. We highly encourage you to apply for a study permit as soon as possible. We recognize that some immigration services such as biometrics might not be provided, or accessible in your country. Note that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada indicated there is an automatic extension to submit biometrics for 90 days starting from the date of the biometrics instruction letter. Moreover, IRCC encourages you to contact them via IRCC web form if you are unable to submit biometrics within 90 days. Be ready and ahead of other applicants in preparation for your future travel plans.

 

Will I still qualify for a post-graduate work permit (PGWP) if my program is fully online?  

Programs lasting 2-4 years have more leeway in taking online courses. As long as you do not take more than 50% of your courses online, students should meet this requirement. Students planning on taking one-year programs are encouraged to defer to a future start up.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada clarified the following about programs starting in the fall semester:

Post-Graduate Work Permit Program eligibility will not be affected for international students whose fall 2020 courses will be online due to COVID-19. This is in line with guidance provided to students already studying in Canada or whose program had a spring or summer start date.

Students in this situation may begin their classes while outside Canada and complete up to 50% of their program via distance learning if they cannot travel to Canada sooner.

In addition, they will not have time deducted from the length of a future post-graduation work permit for studies completed outside of Canada, up to December 31, 2020.

 More information is available on the IRCC COVID-19 PGWPP Rules page. 

I am in my home country. Can you help/support with my VISA/StudyPermit/eTa application?

Since 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, Immigration Advisors are able to assist you in your study and work-related applications.

 

I applied for my study permit and I am waiting for feedback. Can you help expedite the process?

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

 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my country has locked down the borders and I may not be able to travel to Canada. What am I supposed to do? 

Travel restrictions are not unique to your country; Canada has also implemented travel restrictions. However, there are some exceptions. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada states: “If you’re an international student who has a valid study permit or were approved for a study permit on or before March 18, 2020, and are outside the United States, you are exempt from the travel restrictions.”

 

I got an acceptance letter from VIU and applied for a study permit. In case borders are still locked because of the pandemic, how do I ask for a refund from VIU?

Although traveling and face-face class delivery might not be an option until further notice, VIU and other BC institutions were successful in finishing our spring (January to April) semester online. This positive experience will continue for the fall semester. We encourage you to consider online courses before requesting a refund. The other option, depending on your program, is to defer start-up to the following year or semester.

 

Will I be financially penalized for switching to another institution since VIU is changing its method of delivery?

We would love you to stay at VIU and hope you will reconsider. However, if you choose to cancel or withdraw please see our COVID-19 refund and deferral policy, updated May 11, 2020.

 

Can I start classes somewhere else and then transfer to VIU once you open for in-person classes?

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

 

When do I have to decide and pay for the Fall 2020 semester?

  • Continuing students ‒ the usual deadlines apply, which are available on our Registration important dates page. If you wish to be considered for exceptions based on extenuating circumstances please contact iefinance@viu.ca.
  • New Applicants ‒ This depends on your program of study. Your deposit deadline is listed in your letter of offer.  If you need to request an extension, please contact study@viu.ca

  

I am an international student and I need a letter for immigration purposes explaining that my program of study was affected by COVID-19, can I get an official letter from VIU?

Yes. Please contact study@viu.ca.

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