University of Victoria

University of Victoria. Study in Canada. Education Abroad.

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I am very proud to be president of the University of Victoria, an institution increasingly recognized as one of the world’s finest.

UVic’s rise to prominence over its first 50 years of existence has been the result of many factors: the contributions of talented and dedicated faculty; the energy, enthusiasm and inventiveness of graduate and undergraduate students; the dedication and support of excellent staff; the passion of our alumni to make a difference in the world; and the support and active engagement of our many donors, partners and supporters from all walks of life and sectors of society.

UVic is a high-powered research university, a diverse and welcoming community, with a beautiful west coast campus, which fosters an institution-wide commitment to the environment. It is big enough to have an international presence and impact, yet small enough that students are able to develop a strong sense of community and lifelong connections with friends and mentors.

Our university is a national and international leader in many areas of critical research and creative endeavour, and our faculty are committed and inspiring teachers. We offer our students a research-enriched education that is complemented by applied, clinical and work-integrated learning opportunities, making it among the best in the world. UVic’s deep commitment to and leadership in community engagement makes a difference in the lives of people in communities across Canada and around the globe.

I invite you to explore what UVic has to offer you through our website and discover what sets us apart from Canada’s many other fine universities.

I believe you’ll be impressed by what this university has achieved so far and as confident as I am about its potential to accomplish great things in the future.

Jamie Cassels, QC
President, University of Victoria

Schools / Colleges / Departments / Courses / Faculties

  • Peter B. Gustavson School of Business
  • Division of Continuing Studies
  • Faculty of Education
  • Faculty of Engineering
  • Faculty of Fine Arts
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • Faculty of Human and Social Development
  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Faculty of Law
  • Division of Medical Sciences
  • Faculty of Science
  • Faculty of Social Sciences


The University of Victoria was established on 1 July 1963 in Victoria, British Columbia. Victoria College, which had been established in 1903 as an affiliated college of McGill University, gained autonomy and full degree granting status on March 1, 1963. The non-denominational university had enjoyed 60 years of prior teaching tradition at the university level as Victoria College. This 60 years of history may be viewed conveniently in three distinct stages. Between the years 1903 and 1915, Victoria College was affiliated with McGill University, offering first- and second-year McGill courses in Arts and Science. Administered locally by the Victoria School Board, the College was an adjunct to Victoria High School and shared its facilities. Both institutions were under the direction of a single Principal: E.B. Paul, 1903–1908; and S.J. Willis, 1908–1915.

The opening in 1915 of the University of British Columbia, established by Act of Legislature in 1908, obliged the college to suspend operations in higher education in Victoria. University of British Columbia was created in 1908. A single, public provincial university, it was modeled on the American state university, with an emphasis on extension work and applied research. The governance was modeled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.

In 1920, as a result of local demands, Victoria College began the second stage of its development, reborn in affiliation with the University of British Columbia. Though still administered by the Victoria School Board, the college was now completely separated from Victoria High School, moving in 1921 into the magnificent Dunsmuir mansion known as Craigdarroch Castle. Over the next two decades, under Principals E.B. Paul and P.H. Elliott, Victoria College built a reputation for thorough and scholarly instruction in first- and second-year arts and science. It was also during this period that future author Pierre Berton edited and served as principal cartoonist for the student newsletter, The Microscope.

Between the years 1921-1944, the enrolment at Victoria College did not very often reach above 250. However, in 1945, 128 servicemen returned from Wold War II. This pushed enrolment up to 400, and in 1946; 600.

The final stage, between the years 1945 and 1963, saw the transition from two year college to university, under Principals J.M. Ewing and W.H. Hickman. During this period, the college was governed by the Victoria College Council, representative of the parent University of British Columbia, the Greater Victoria School Board, and the provincial Department of Education. Physical changes were many. In 1946 the college was forced by postwar enrollment to move from Craigdarroch to the Lansdowne campus of the Provincial Normal School, the current location of Camosun College’s Lansdowne Campus. The Normal School, itself an institution with a long and honourable history, joined Victoria College in 1956 as its Faculty of Education. Late in this transitional period (through the co-operation of the Department of National Defence and the Hudson’s Bay Company) the 284-acre (1,1 km²)–now 385-acre (1.6 km²)–campus at Gordon Head was acquired. Academic expansion was rapid after 1956, until in 1961 the college, still in affiliation with UBC, awarded its first bachelor’s degrees.

In the early part of this century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced.

The policy of university education initiated in the 1960s responded to population pressure and the belief that higher education was a key to social justice and economic productivity for individuals and for society.

The university gained its autonomy in 1963 as the University of Victoria. The University Act of 1963 vested administrative authority in a chancellor elected by the convocation of the university, a board of governors, and a president appointed by the board; academic authority was given to the senate which was representative both of the faculties and of the convocation.

University of Victoria’s Arms were registered with the Canadian Heraldic Authority on April 3, 2001. The historical traditions of the university are reflected in the coat of arms, its academic regalia and its house flag. The BA hood is of solid red, a colour that recalls the early affiliation with McGill, as do the martlets in the coat of arms. The BSc hood, of gold, and the BEd hood, of blue, show the colours of the University of British Columbia. Blue and gold have been retained as the official colours of the University of Victoria. The motto at the top of the Arms of the University, in Hebrew characters, is “Let there be Light”; the motto at the bottom, in Latin, is “A Multitude of the Wise is the Health of the World.”

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