Distributed Learning – B.C. Residency

Date came into force or revised

Revised January 29, 2014



Policy statement

Boards of Education may enrol students who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia in distributed learning schools or programs. Subject to certain conditions, boards or authorities may also enrol fee paying students who live outside British Columbia but within Canada in distributed learning schools or programs. 

Rationale or purpose of policy

Distributed learning provides the opportunity for Boards of Education to provide an educational program to students who are not geographically located in the local school community. This policy sets out the specific requirements that must be met regarding residency of students in distributed learning programs. 


  • School Act (PDF), Section 168 (3) allows a board, with the approval of the Minister of Education, to enter into an agreement with an education authority outside British Columbia for the education of children for whom the outside authority is responsible.
  • School Act (PDF), Section 82 (1,2)  outlines educational program eligibility for those students who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia.

Policy in full

Boards of Education in British Columbia may enrol students located outside the province but resident in B.C. in distributed learning schools or programs.

The School Act outlines procedures for the provision of educational programs for students who are ordinarily resident in the province. However, the Act does not outline procedures for students who are  temporarily or permanently residing outside the province.  If a board wishes to offer distributed learning to students outside of B.C., it is required to establish its own residency policy consistent with the School Act, Ministry legislation and policy.

Under a board's residency policy, a board must not charge tuition fees to students who are temporarily out of the province, but who are ordinarily resident in British Columbia. However, if certain procedures are followed, boards may offer distributed learning to non-resident students in Canada for a fee. The requirements are described in the procedures section below.

Boards may not offer a course or an educational program through distributed learning to students not ordinarily resident in B.C. for the purpose of obtaining a B.C. Certificate of Graduation (Dogwood) or a certificate of graduation from the foreign jurisdiction. This policy does not apply to Offshore Students.

Procedures related to policy

The procedures outlined in this policy do not apply to the offshore B.C. program.

For ordinarily resident students

A board must have a policy for determining “ordinarily resident” status. The Eligibility of Students for Operating Grant Funding Policy provides guidance to boards regarding ordinarily resident status. In deeming a student  “ordinarily resident” there is no specific time limit set by the Ministry, such as two years, but time may be a factor in the board’s  policy.

A board may consider various kinds of evidence from the student, parent, or legal guardian, to determine if they are ordinarily resident in B.C. Evidence used to establish residency must be kept in the school or student’s file and be readily available.

For non-resident students within Canada (Fee Payers)

Boards of education may deliver a course or program through distributed learning to students who reside outside British Columbia but within Canada.  However, these students will be working on a certificate of graduation in the other jurisdiction.  Boards may do so based on the  following: 

  • Non-resident students are not funded by the B.C. Ministry of Education. Boards may set fees for the courses as they deem appropriate.
  • The distributed learning school or program must be identified by the correct Ministry facility code as set out in the Form 1601 (PDF), Public School Verification form instructions.
  • The board must have a written agreement with the education authority in the other jurisdiction in which the student is resident. The authority in the other jurisdiction could be the responsible Ministry or Board of Education. The board offering the course or program must have an agreement for individual students as well as for a group of students.
  • The B.C. distributed learning school or program must be able to provide performance information for all students served.
  • The board must have a signed distributed learning agreement with the Ministry of Education for the school year in which the distributed learning course or program will be provided.  Boards wishing to proceed must take the following steps:
  1. Request approval from the B.C. Minister of Education to enter into an agreement with another Canadian jurisdiction or another Canadian jurisdiction’s Board of Education. The School Act Section 168 Agreement Form must be used to request this approval.
  2. Submit to the Ministry a copy of the fully executed agreement between the board and the other jurisdiction or B.C. board.
  3. Report students on Student Level Data collections “1701” using Funding Code 14 (Out-of-Province). 
  • The Ministry will monitor the board or authority’s compliance with the distributed learning agreement.  Information required in these procedures will be kept on file by the Ministry for purposes of monitoring compliance with this policy.