Education in Vancouver

Canada is known for its remarkable educational system and British Columbia contributes to this reputation with a well-run selection of schools.

Whether you are looking into government-funded education, independent schooling or home schooling, British Columbia has many options available. The province offers education in French and/or English.

The school year in Vancouver runs from September through June, with children beginning their school career in kindergarten at the age of 5 years old. The major school divisions are elementary (Grades K–7) and high school (Grades 8–12).

Public schools

British Columbia students enjoy access to free education at all public schools. Most schools will provide all of the learning materials including textbooks to their students who fall in each particular catchment area. Unfortunately, you cannot register your child in a public school without obtaining a Confirmation of Landing or Permanent Residency.

Overall there are 92 public elementary schools, 1 middle school and 18 secondary schools in the Vancouver schooling system. Over and above these schools, there are also many after school programs including arts and culture programs.

Before beginning their school career, children in British Columbia are able to participate in StrongStart BC. This free initiative is available to children at the age of 5 and below, giving them the opportunity to learn in a fun environment through stories, music and art. Kids can meet other children and interact with them while their language, physical, cognitive, social and emotional skills develop.

Independent schools

There are a few highly-rated private schools in the Vancouver area including religious, expat and special needs institutions.

Independent schools provide smaller classes, a more focused approach to each student’s needs and fantastic facilities that some public schools do not provide. The cost of sending your child to an independent school can be an expensive option with fees sometimes reaching $42 000 for tuition in a specialised expat school.

Faith-based schools often offer significant discounts to kids who are members of the congregation, while other independent schools encourage siblings to attend the same school by offering discounts to family members.

Homeschooling and special needs

Children who will be learning at home through the homeschooling system are able to apply through the Distributed Learning facility. This allows students to register with a ministry-approved school, but all classes are conducted at home.

Special needs children who struggle with learning or socialising are catered for in the public and private schooling systems. Some independent schools cater exclusively to children who need extra support and specialised education.

Higher education

Over half of the population of Canada have a degree and with so many institutions available, Canadians and international students are spoilt for choice. Whether you are looking to study at one of the biggest universities in Canada, or you are looking to attend a smaller, more specialised institution, Vancouver has an option for you.

The University of British Columbia

University of British Columbia campus


Consistently ranked in the top 50 universities worldwide, the University of British Columbia is one of the biggest and most well-established institutions in the country. As a major research facility, students can enjoy access to degrees, courses and programmes in a variety of different fields.

The university has two campuses in the province, one in Vancouver and the other in Okanagan Valley. Across these campuses, there are approximately 60 000 students in attendance, with over 11 000 of those students coming from 139 countries worldwide.

The Vancouver campus is located 30 minutes from the heart of the city, surrounded by lush forests on one side and the shoreline on the other. At the university, you will be able to access top facilities including one of the world’s leading laboratories for subatomic physics, The Chan Centre for the Performing Arts — one of the world’s great concert halls and The Centre for Interactive Research in Sustainability (CIRS) are also located at the university.

Some of the programs offered include dentistry, education, architecture and business sciences, among hundreds of other courses. To find a full listing of programs available, visit the website here.

Student life is a big part of the university experience. Organised parties and events are held on a weekly basis, but sports games are some of the biggest parties. Every week, the UBC Thunderbirds take the field with thousands of students cheering the team on.

Find out more about becoming a student at UBC here.

Simon Fraser University

Since 1965, Simon Fraser University has grown in size to an astounding 30 000 students annually, and ranks in the top 50 universities in the world. At the cutting edge of innovation, students who are interested in studying technology and business will be drawn to the university. 3 Campuses are located throughout British Columbia with 130 000 alumni’s from around the world.