VIU to Increase English Language Requirement for International Students

August 2, 2018 - 10:00am

To better support students’ academic success, Vancouver Island University (VIU) will be increasing the English language proficiency requirement for international students. 

“A number of studies demonstrate that English language proficiency is a critical factor in academic success. By requiring a higher level of academic English, VIU is ensuring that future students are better set up for academic success,” says Dr. Norma MacSween, VIU Associate Dean of International Education. 

The new language requirement for international students will take effect for the September 2019 intake. The requirement will change to IELTS 6.5 with no bands under 6.0 (or equivalent) for undergraduate programs. Graduate programs will require IELTS 7.0 with no bands under 6.5 (or equivalent). 

For universities, IELTS recommends that a 6.5 band be the minimum acceptable score for undergraduate programs. 

VIU’s English Language Centre (ELC) offers a wide range of academic English programs year-round with six intakes per year. The centre has adjusted its curriculum to support students and ensure when they graduate from the program, they will meet the new English requirement. 

“When students pass Academic Preparation level 5, they may enter their undergraduate studies without having to provide an IELTS or TOEFL score. Students who successfully complete the Grad Prep program may directly enter their master’s program,” says MacSween.

On top of supporting students with academic language skills, the ELC also helps prepare students to begin university. 

“Our goal is to ensure international students can academically perform in their second language and match their Canadian classmates,” says Matthew Finlayson, VIU Instructor at ELC. “Having the English language skill set to understand the material in the coursework is crucial to students’ success, and at VIU we offer the support systems to get them there.” 

“The language support for international students does not end once they begin their credit studies,” says MacSween.  “The International Academic Support team offers academic language support for all international students doing an undergraduate or graduate degree program. This is a free service and students can either make an appointment or drop in to the VIU library to get the help and support they need.”

Students already attending VIU or who have a valid deferral will not be affected by the change and will be accepted at the previous standard. Students wishing to enroll into a graduate program with an IELTS 6.5 can still apply given they complete the Grad Prep program prior to their first semester. 



Rae-Anne LaPlante, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

P: 250.740.6673 | E:| T: @VIUNews

Tags: Teaching and Learning

Sign up for our VIU news and experts email