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ESL courses now tuition-free

Mon, May 14, 2018 
British Columbia 
BC Ministry of Education

VANCOUVER - Canadian citizens can now take English as a Second Language courses tuition-free at 17 public post-secondary institutions throughout British Columbia.

English as a Second Language (ESL) programs provide language instruction at basic, intermediate and advanced levels to people whose first language is not English.

Under the Canada-B.C. Immigration Agreement, ESL courses are being provided tuition-free to new immigrants, such as permanent residents. As well as ESL in the 17 public post-secondary institutions, this includes WelcomeBC's English Language Services for Adults (ELSA) program in communities throughout the province.

The Province is extending this tuition-free policy to Canadian citizens at public post-secondary institutions, ensuring that they have access to the same opportunities as recent immigrants.

The Ministry of Advanced Education will also continue to provide financial assistance to ESL students with a demonstrated financial need under its Adult Basic Education Student Assistance Program (ABESAP) to help with associated fees, books, transportation, child care and other costs.


Naomi Yamamoto, Minister of Advanced Education -

"We want to make sure all British Columbians have the adult education opportunities they need to find jobs, raise families, participate in their communities and fulfil their dreams."

"This investment will help Canadian citizens and Canadian-born residents whose first language is not English improve their English language skills in order to move on to higher levels of education, skills and trades training and employment."

Tanis Sawkins, faculty member in the professional and career English department at Vancouver Community College (VCC) -

"Creating tuition-free ESL for Canadian citizens removes a potential barrier on their pathway to success, because the sooner someone whose first language is not English can improve their language skills, the sooner they can become full participants in the community and in employment."

Quick Facts:

  • Government-funded ESL courses are offered at the following public post-secondary institutions: British Columbia Institute of Technology, Camosun College, Capilano University, College of New Caledonia, College of the Rockies, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Langara College, North Island College, Northwest Community College, Northern Lights College, Okanagan College, Selkirk College, Thompson Rivers University, University of the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Community College, Vancouver Island University.
  • For the 2010-11 academic year, these 17 public-post secondary institutions delivered ESL training for more than 8,800 domestic students.
  • The average full-time ESL domestic tuition was $2,300 at B.C.'s public post-secondary institutions in 2010-11.
  • The 2010 Developmental Student Outcomes Survey found that:
    • 82 per cent of respondents said their ESL courses were very helpful or helpful to them in achieving their most important goal for enrolling;
    • 91 per cent of those who took further education said they had been very well or somewhat prepared for the studies they enrolled in after leaving their ESL courses.
Mon, May 14, 2018 
British Columbia 
BC Ministry of Education
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