The Greater Vancouver area is home to some truly world class public universities.  Backed by the BC Government, these schools attract many international students from everywhere in the world.  

University of British Columbia

Now located on two main campuses, UBC is the oldest and most prestigious university in British Columbia.  The historic and largest campus sits on almost 1000 acres beside the City of Vancouver in an unincorporated area known as the University Endowment Lands.  Address at UBC are still located in Vancouver though.

The University of British Columbia is ranked second in Canada and 37th worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities, second in Canada and 22nd worldwide in the Times Higher Education rankings, third in Canada and 51st globally in the QS World University Rankings, and second in Canada and eighth overall in Newsweek's ranking of top universities outside of the United States . The university has been affiliated with five Nobel laureates. 

Total UBC enrolment is over 54,000 students between the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.  In 2010 this enrollment was broken down by 44,496 undergraduate students and 9,629 graduate students. There are more than 250,000 UBC alumni in 120 countries.  

Thousands of international students are attracted to study at the undergraduate and graduate levels every year at UBC.  

Simon Fraser University

Also called SFU, Simon Fraser University is a Canadian public research university in British Columbia. The main campus on Burnaby Mountain is actually next to the city of Vancouver in Burnaby, BC.  The Burnaby Mountain campus is a modern architectural marvel and the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada recognized it for the "enduring excellence of nationally significant architecture"

Satellite campuses in Vancouver and Surrey are also operated by SFU.  Much younger that UBC, SFU was established in 1965.  More than 34,000 students and 950 faculty members call SFU home. 

The university namesake is Simon Fraser, a North West Company fur trader and explorer who also lent his name to the Fraser River which flows through the Vancouver area and the Fraser Valley which forms the Eastern portion of Greater Vancouver.

Undergraduate and graduate programs operate on a year-round tri-semester schedule, allowing students to enter SFU more often than schools offering a 2 semester system.

Macleans Magazine ranked SFU 1st among Canada’s Comprehensive Universities in 2009, 2010, and 2011.

SFU attracts many international students from around the world and has an extensive ESL program for preparing students who need to upgrade their English to study in a Canadian University. 

Capilano University

Located in North Vancouver about a 20 min drive from the downtown core of Vancouver, Capilano University is a public university that grew out of a community college. Additional campuses are located in Squamish and on the Sunshine Coast of BC.

Cap U has about 7,500 students enrolled in credit programs. An additional 7,000 students register in non-credit courses each year at Capilano.  Many of these are international students.

Capilano University provides a complete range of facilities and services — library, computer learning centre, bookstore, cafeteria, health services, sports facilities, International Student Centre, and more.  

Capalanio University has a good English as a Second Language prep program.  Students who pass the CU ESL courses are not required to take TOEFL tests and can also enroll in selected regular university classes in subjects that do not require such a high level of English.

Emily Carr University

An art and design focused university, Emily Carr is named for famed BC painter Emily Carr and operates from disbursed buildings around the City of Vancouver.  The school is a relatively recent creation of a University, getting the university title in 2008, but it's roots go back to the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts  in 1925.   

The school recently created four new Faculties to reflect and support new curriculum and research endeavours. These facilities are the Faculty of Culture and Community, the Faculty of Design and Dynamic Media, the Faculty of Visual Art and Material Practice, and the Faculty of Graduate Studies. These new faculties are intended to facilitate work across mediums and technologies, while as independent entities, the Faculties also promote the development of new courses and programs that reflect the fluidity of contemporary practice in art, design and media.

Emily Carr reported 1,828 students in 2010/2011, of which 242 were classes as International and another 15 as exchange students.

Trinity Western University

A private, Christian liberal arts university located in Langley, British Columbia, just outside Vancouver, Trinity Western University was founded in 1962 as Trinity Junior College.

TWU sits on a 157-acre (64 ha) campus plus runs programs across the border in Bellingham Washington.  The school has a broad-based liberal arts, sciences, and professional studies core curriculum that includes 42 undergraduate majors and 17 graduate and post-graduate programs.

Trinity Western University has students from all 10 Canadian provinces, 37 U.S. states, and 33 foreign countries.   They report the student body to be 61% Canadian, 28% American, and 11% other international.  The student/faculty ratio of 11 to 1 is very low as is the average class size.  Over 85% of the University's professors have doctorates.

TWU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in 5 faculties covering a liberal arts and sciences curriculum.  These include arts and religious studies, business and economics, natural and applied sciences, social sciences and education.  

As a religious school, TWU also offers extensive seminary training leading to graduate theology degrees. Other programs include Trinity Western Educational Services and Training (TWest-Continuing Studies), cooperative education and aviation studies.

TWU is serious about research with the Dead Sea Scrolls Institute, Gender Studies Institute, Religion in Canada Institute, Septuagint Institute, Centre for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Centre for Spiritual Formation in Higher Education, and Religion, Culture and Conflict Research Group.  


Coming to Vancouver for University is a great idea.  The city is very multi-cultural.  The weather is mild and the scenery is fantastic.  The quality of schools is outstanding too and Canada in general is famous for the high University standards.  If you are planning to brush up on your English skills so you can get admission to one of Vancouver's universities to study in another field, there are many good ESL schools in Vancouver worth checking out.