Students Want More Consultation Before Tuition is Raised Again

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

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