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UBC Reports | Vol. 49 | No. 1 | Jan. 2, 2003

Students Want More Consultation Before Tuition is Raised Again

New fees could take effect in May 2003

By Michelle Cook

A proposal to increase tuition fees by 20 to 30 per cent is scheduled to go before UBC’s Board of Governors for approval in late January but student leaders are saying they haven’t been adequately consulted on the process.

The proposal is for tuition in the 2003/04 academic year to be raised by 30 per cent for most undergraduate students and 20 per cent for research-based graduate programs. Increases for professional graduate programs such as Journalism, Architecture and Human Kinetics range from 20 to 30 per cent. A differentiated undergraduate engineering fee is proposed which would increase tuition by 40 per cent.

UBC Vice-president, Students, Brian Sullivan said that while last March’s tuition increases have allowed the university to make improvements in course availability, class size, classrooms, technical support and other areas, there are additional measures that must be taken.

“The university is still coming out of a prolonged period of frozen tuition fees and we know the quality of programs has suffered. We have evidence that we are beginning to turn things around, and we’ve looked at the resources required to make additional improvements. In our estimate that requires increases at both the undergraduate and graduate levels,” Sullivan said.

He adds that even with the recent tuition increases, UBC remains substantially below the national average. Outside of Quebec, it is still the least expensive university in Canada to attend.

Both AMS president Kristen Harvey and GSS president Brian de Alwis, who together represent the 37,000 students at UBC, say that the university has not consulted with students sufficiently on the proposed increases.

“We were advised of this proposal a few days before the end of term,” de Alwis says. “When you’re going to consult with students you have to do it when it’s possible for them. That’s not during exams or during Christmas break when there’s not a huge percentage of students on campus.”

Harvey adds that students don’t have critical pieces of information including an efficiencies report on where revenue from the last year’s tuition increases has been spent, and an assessment of the tuition increase.

Sullivan admits that the timing for consulting with students has been tight, but says meeting with students will be a top priority leading up to January’s Board of Governors meeting.

“There is lots of student interest in this matter especially on the size of the tuition increase, access and how the money is being spent,” Sullivan said. “We will make ourselves available to meet with students any time and any place. Any student who wants to have a voice in this will.”

If approved, Sullivan says the tuition hikes are expected to generate $28 million in additional revenue for UBC. The funds will be used to attract and retain top-quality faculty, improve faculty-to-student ratios, and maintain teaching facilities. An additional $5 million will be allocated to support specific improvements to UBC’s learning environment identified in consultation with students and deans, and $4 million will be allocated to additional student financial support.

The tuition proposal is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Governors on Jan. 27, 2003. The Finance Committee of the Board, which meets on Jan.23, will review the tuition proposal and the student consultation process, and may consider holding a special meeting in February to discuss tuition increases should additional consultations be deemed necessary.

If the current proposal is approved, the new fee schedule will take effect in May 2003. A report on how last year’s revenue was allocated is available at http://students.ubc.ca/finance/fees/tuitionpolicy.cfm.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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