New first-year students have now begun registering for classes and UBC has an early picture of what the incoming class will look like. While these numbers are still preliminary and UBC expects to release a more complete picture of the UBC student body in late August, it appears that the university is educating more students than ever before. Our incoming first-year class of 9,600 undergraduate students, on our two campuses, includes more than 5,000 B.C. students and 2,870 international students.
After early speculation that global political uncertainty could encourage more international students to apply to Canadian universities, this year’s growth appears to be following a similar pattern as the past five years. Here Pamela Ratner, UBC vice-provost and associate vice-president, enrolment and academic facilities, highlights some of the trends she sees in this year’s numbers.
What can you tell me about where UBC’s domestic students come from?
UBC enrolls a geographically diverse domestic student body with students from across Canada; about 70 per cent come from B.C. For this coming year, more than 16,800 secondary-school graduates, who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, applied to first year of our direct-entry undergraduate programs at our two campuses, and we offered admission to about three quarters of them. Of course, not all of them accept our offer of admission.
UBC is committed to supporting Indigenous students. This year, we admitted more than 300 Indigenous undergraduate students. First-year enrolment of students who self-identified as Indigenous is up 22 per cent across both campuses. These students are more likely than other domestic students to originate from high schools or colleges outside the Lower Mainland and from outside B.C.
In 2016, UBC students voted through a referendum to increase their Alma Mater student fees to support eight student refugees sponsored through the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program. Students who enter Canada as Convention refugees enter the country as permanent residents and are eligible for domestic tuition rates and able to work in Canada as is any other Canadian student.
Are global events and political uncertainty in the U.S., U.K. and around the world driving this year’s increase in international students?
We have seen more students applying to UBC, from around the world, each of the last five years and longer. We can’t point to any one factor in explaining the global interest in UBC. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development noted that the number of international post-secondary students enrolled worldwide has increased substantially over the past decade or more. They attribute the increase in student mobility to the growing demand for education worldwide and the perceived value of studying at a prestigious university. This has contributed to the flow of a diverse population of international students, including those who do not have access to post-secondary education in their home countries and those with high academic achievement who want to study at high-quality institutions.
International students choose the best university they can afford in the country they wish to study in, and their decisions take into account the value of the degree and the probable return on their investment in obtaining an international education. This year’s new first-year students come from 112 countries and there are more students than ever before from Turkey and India. The top countries of citizenship for our incoming students are China, the U.S. and India, similar to past years. Consistent marketing and recruitment efforts, and strong relationships built with good secondary schools around the world, allow UBC to sustain our international enrolments even in turbulent times.
Do international students take spaces away from domestic students?
No. Each year, the provincial government funds UBC for a set number of domestic students and UBC consistently exceeds those targets. In 2016/17, UBC was funded to enroll 42,418 full-time domestic students, at its two campuses, and we enrolled about 46,000–that’s 3,600 more students than funded provincially.
International undergraduate students pay a differential tuition fee, unaided by funding from B.C. taxpayers. The majority of tuition is provided to the faculties to ensure that they are able to continue to attract outstanding professors, build exceptional facilities, provide services that all students – domestic and international – rely on to succeed, such as career planning, library acquisitions, counselling and work-learn opportunities, and to maintain the quality of academic programs that students expect from a top-tier institution such as UBC.
Why does UBC continue to increase the number of international students?
UBC is committed to “internationalism”, an outlook that includes cooperation between nations and universities. We believe that scholarly cooperation among and between students and faculty will help achieve the goal of advancing society, advancing humanity, through the pursuit of knowledge.
We believe that domestic students, from all parts of B.C. and Canada, are well-served and better prepared for life after graduation by exposure to the diversity of ideas, experiences, and backgrounds that are found at an international university. We encourage our students to take advantage of our many study abroad programs, and to develop intercultural understanding and global awareness. As the world becomes more interdependent we recognize the need to support our students as they develop better understanding of themselves and their role in a global community.
UBC’s international enrolments are strategically planned within the context of our overall undergraduate enrolments. The faculties carefully calibrate their enrolment targets in relation to teaching capacity and program space.