Now is a good time to go back to school

Maybe you didn't go to university after high school and now you're thinking about it. Maybe you want a better career. Maybe you're following a childhood dream or looking for a fresh start.

Whatever your reason, whatever your goal, we're here to help you make it happen. And we want you to know there's a place for you here. Mature students make up more than half of the population at VIU, so you'll find people to connect with here.

We value your experience

In your life experiences you've gained skills and you've learned things. Some of that may line up with what we teach in a VIU course. We want to give you credit for your skills where we can. We offer prior learning assessments (PLA) and grant university credit for knowledge you've gained through experience.

Woman with blonde hair in scrubs working with medical equipment.

Going back to school as a mature student was amazing in so many ways. I was able to take it more seriously than when I was fresh out of high school. I would do it again in a heartbeat.
-Dallas Burnand, Practical Nurse and mother of four

Canadian universities have different definitions for mature students. At VIU anyone joining us after time away from school is considered a mature student. The unique perspective you bring to your studies is important to us. 

We also have a formal mature student classification for students who didn't finish high school. If you want to take a trades program, you’re considered a mature student at age 19. For academic programs, the age is 21. 

We're here to help you get where you want to go in life, and we do everything we can to make sure mature students get what they need.

As a mature student, you can apply to VIU programs without a high school diploma.

For most programs, you need a minimum grade of C in English 12. Each program may have additional admission requirements.  And you must take the prerequisites for individual courses you want to take.

Free upgrading options

If you’re missing prerequisites, we offer free high school upgrading through the Adult Basic Education (ABE) program.

The Pathways to Postsecondary program may be a good fit for you.

In some cases, you can start taking university courses at the same time as you take prerequisites.

Some universities limit the programs mature students can apply to. Not us. Mature students are welcome in all VIU programs.

As a mature student, you’re eligible for most of the opportunities through VIU Financial Aid and Awards. Some opportunities are just for mature students.

  • Canadian Federation of University women ($1000)
  • Hazelwood Construction Trades Bursary ($1000)
  • Diny Van Beers and Family Bursary ($1000)

Everyone follows the same steps to becoming a student. We use the date of birth on your application to identify you as a mature student. 

Rob Doliwa tells his story

Smiling man in a welding shop.
After 11 years in the military, I needed to get a marketable skill for post military life. I decided to go into the trades, welding in particular, because I always had an interest in working with metal. I chose trades because it's extremely useful. And there will always be a need for trades so there's no shortage of work.

The best part has been being able to appreciate and take advantage of the second chance I have at higher education. My first go round was wasted on me being a dumb kid, but it's definitely given me an appreciation for this opportunity I have now. Being on more of a peer level with the instructor is also a big plus. It is nice going back to school without feeling the social pressure I felt going to school when I was younger. I get to dedicate myself completely to learning my new trade.

It has absolutely paid off and was completely worth it. I wish I had done this sooner, but I am thankful that I was able to do it. To anyone who is on the fence, I highly recommend taking the plunge, you won't be disappointed.


Email to speak with a Recruiter from the Office of Future Students.

Lifelong learning at VIU

Want to learn something new without making a big commitment? Our lifelong learning options might be right for you.

  • Adventures in Mind is a series of travel adventures to Europe led by VIU professors.
  • With the Love of Learning program you can audit courses at a reduced rate.
  • The VIU age exemption is for domestic students aged 65+ to take academic courses with free tuition, space permitting.