High School Education in Canada

Q: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your position at Vancouver Island University High School?
I am Keith Watson, the Principal of Vancouver Island University High School. I am a father of 2 daughters, who both studied at Vancouver Island University. I have a Master’s degree in Education and I have worked most of my career in an education environment as a teacher and school administrator.
High-School-Education-in-Canada-1Q. Could you inform us about Vancouver Island University High School? We also would like to learn what distinguishes Vancouver Island University High School from other Vancouver / Canadian high schools?
We are the only model of its kind in Canada. Vancouver Island is a private high school owned and operated by Vancouver Island University (VIU), which is a Canadian public University of 10 thousand students. Our High School is right on the University campus and we share all resources and facilities with the University. Our students have a university student card and are considered university students taking a high school program.
Our total number of students is limited to 100. Average class size is 12 students, which allows us to build a great connection with our students, give them personal attention and care and support them with their higher education plans. It is a boutique high school with a focused learning environment. Canadian and international students from 16 different countries have access to all University resources: clubs, services, events and facilities.
Q: For students who are interested in studying university in Canada what does MHS offer? Does Vancouver Island offer any preparation to enter university?
Our Focus:
1. Canadian High School Diploma under British Columbia Graduation Program
2. University Preparation Program for High School graduates (UPP)
3. Comprehensive English Language Program (10 levels from beginner ESL to English 12)
4. Summer and Winter Camps for Personal Development and Leadership
A high school program at VIU gives our students special advantages. The focused learning environment allows students to prepare for the high academic expectations in university. The transition to university is seamless because students experience university on a daily basis. A great way to discover and find your path.
Q: Is Canada a safe country and what is the average temperature on Vancouver Island?
Vancouver Island, British Columbia, has the mildest climate in Canada. You can golf on a Saturday and ski or snow board on Sunday. Our four distinct seasons include Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer.


Nanaimo is a harbour city with a population of 86,000. Students appreciate a very safe, healthy and natural lifestyle.

High-School-Education-in-Canada-2Q: What is the difference between an accredited school and a non-accredited school?
Schools in British Columbia must be accredited by the Ministry of Education. Vancouver Island is regulated by several government bodies due to the uniquely innovative International program at Vancouver Island University. The regulatory bodies include: BC Ministry of Education, Independent Schools Act, Society Act, and Vancouver Island University.
Q: How long Vancouver Island Int. School has been operating?
Vancouver Island was established in 1996 for the purpose of providing a continuum of education for international students. We have evolved to include Canadians and together we contribute to a leading Canadian university international program.
Q: What are the requirements to enter the High School Program?
Our Mission Statement: Vancouver Island University High School at Vancouver Island University is dedicated to welcoming all students and fostering, encouraging and developing in each of our students, the qualities of personal responsibility, self motivation and excellent work habits. We support our students in developing the necessary character, knowledge, skills and values to enable them to engage in life-long learning and to assume their role and responsibility as active global citizens.
So for us, to accept a student to our program, the first criteria is not high marks but the willingness of the students to study, prepare themselves for their university lives, to engage with their friends, be active and contribute to our global learning environment.
Q: What kinds of families are involved in the homestay program?
Our homestay program is run by VIU Home Stay Department. The Program is dedicated to providing home stays with Canadian families. All homestay families are carefully selected, interviewed, criminal records checked and all homes are inspected. Students are placed in home stays based on their profiles. We consider home stay placement to be very important and one of the most important student experiences.

High-School-Education-in-Canada-3Q: Are there any rules in the Homestay accommodation?
Students sign a Participation Agreement agreeing to follow the laws of Canada, respect their new family and abide by the rules of the home and school. We expect our host families to welcome our students as part of their family.

Q: How far away are the homestay families from Vancouver Island? Does Vancouver Island offer residence accommodation for High School students?
The average student will spend 20 minutes by bus between Vancouver Island and their homestay. We are a university town so all busses are directed through the university centre. Some students may be walking distance where others may take 30 minutes to travel.
The principal is Custodian for all students under the age of 19. A student can be given permission to live in campus residences or off-campus housing once they have establish they are responsible, demonstrate leadership, and have a high academic standard.
Q: Do you have any other suggestions for Turkish students who are pursuing high school education in Canada?
My biggest suggestion would be “Love Where You Learn”. Whichever school they choose, I suggest to them as teacher, father and Principal that they focus on their education, be active, make friends, take pride in who you are and be confident. This is how you contribute to our very special Canadian international high school!
Vancouver Island provides a great opportunity to discover university but appreciate the care and attention of a small high school. It is important that all our students whether Canadian or from currently, one of 16 countries, share their ideas and culture. Our Co-Curricular Global Leadership Program provides the opportunity for students to discover and actively participate on campus.
Q: Do you have any message to the Parents?
We care! We want our students to succeed in their personal, educational and professional lives. We provide quality education in an environment allowing personal development. We support and guide students on their journey and help them on their way to become responsible Global Citizens.
A graduate of our school is guaranteed entrance to VIU. We also have a long list of universities across Canada and the United States where our graduates have gone on to success.
We are particularly pleased to have the support and advising of Tolga Habali. He is a special advisor to the principal and is available for personal support of students and family from Turkey. He is a VIU alumni offering personal support to students and families from Turkey. This is a valued service to help students so far from home.