Enrolment figures higher or on par with previous years in Vancouver and the Okanagan
Student enrolment numbers remain strong this fall at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan—a sign of the university’s stellar academic reputation. Students are keenly interested in achieving their educational ambitions at UBC, despite challenges posed by COVID-19.
As of Sept. 21, the numbers of domestic and international undergraduate and graduate students are either slightly higher or on par with previous years, even as the university transitions to offering most classes online due to the pandemic.
“This is truly a testament to the excellent education that UBC provides for students,” says UBC Vancouver Provost and Vice-President Academic, Andrew Szeri. “Around the world, UBC is recognized for the high quality of its graduates. We have made very significant additional investments in technology and training, support and instructional design, to ensure the best possible experience for our students. We are grateful to all of our students for placing their trust in us, and look forward to continuing to provide them with an enriching, world-class education this fall.”
UBC committed to delivering an exceptional remote learning experience
Szeri says this fall’s strong enrolment is due to a number of factors, chiefly UBC’s commitment to its academic mission and to continuing to provide an exceptional learning experience for students both remotely and in-person. Faculty and staff have worked creatively and diligently to redevelop about 3,000 classes to be delivered remotely, all in just a few months. “That so many students are engaging with confidence in UBC is directly a product of the work of our faculty and staff,” says Szeri.
Going back to school is also a trend often seen during times of economic downturn, says Szeri. “Many students may be deciding to use this time to attend university and further their education,” he says, “but the pandemic incorporated significant uncertainty into students’ decisions.”
Total enrolment up 2.4% at UBC-V and UBC-O
At both UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, total enrolment, in full-time equivalents, is up 2.4 per cent this year compared to last year, with 53,845 students enrolled this year.
At UBC Vancouver, domestic undergraduate enrolment is up 3.7 per cent this year compared to last year, with 27,569 domestic undergraduate students currently enrolled. While international undergraduate enrolment at UBC Vancouver has declined 1.8 per cent this year compared to last year—with 9,608 undergraduate students enrolled this year—enrolment is still up one per cent from 2018 and up 8.5 per cent from 2017.
At UBC Okanagan, domestic undergraduate enrolment is up 5.7 per cent this year compared to last year, with 6,973 students currently enrolled. In contrast, domestic undergraduate enrolment increased 4.2 per cent from 2018 to 2019 and 4.9 per cent from 2017 to 2018. International undergraduate enrolment is also up 9.1 per cent this year compared to last year, with 1,664 students enrolled this year. In contrast, international undergraduate enrolment increased 20.8 per cent from 2018 to 2019, and 29.7 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
‘A testament to the resilience of our students and of UBC’
“There’s no doubt that 2020 has been a challenging year for many and we’re deeply encouraged to see so many students committed to their education and putting their trust in UBC,” says UBC Okanagan Provost and Vice-President, Academic, Ananya Mukherjee Reed. “These strong enrolment numbers are a testament to the resilience of our students and of UBC as an institution. I know there may be gaps, but I am deeply grateful to our faculty, staff who are trying to offer the very best we can.”
With the Okanagan campus alone welcoming 11,599 students total (including part-time) from more than 100 countries and 18 time zones around the world, Mukherjee Reed says that the university will be working to ensure students have a fulfilling, productive and enjoyable online learning experience.
Among both domestic and international graduate students at UBC Vancouver and UBC Okanagan, enrolment has either declined slightly or remained on par with previous years. In total, UBC has 6,483 graduate students registered, down 2.3 per cent from last year but still up 2.1 per cent from 2018 and 3.2 per cent from 2017. UBC Vancouver also has 1,548 domestic residents enrolled in dentistry, medicine and pharmaceutical sciences programs—up from 1,470 last year.
Enrolment figures may shift before November, the standard time of year when the university reports its final enrolment data.
Health and safety of students living on campus our first priority
At the same time, student housing occupancy has declined, with overall occupancy at UBC Vancouver sitting at 44 per cent. “Although occupancy is down, the health and safety of our residents are our first priority,” says Associate Vice-President, Student Housing, Andrew Parr. “We are committed to creating a safe living and learning environment for our students who have decided to live on campus this fall.”
On the UBC Vancouver campus, 585 first-year students are living in campus housing, representing 13 per cent occupancy. Among upper-year and graduate students, there are currently 570 students living in winter session residence, representing 23 per cent occupancy. UBC Vancouver also provides 5,400 year-round housing spaces. As many students call these residences home for the duration of their studies, they remain well-occupied, with an occupancy rate of 88 per cent.
At UBC Okanagan, student housing is currently at 19 per cent occupancy.
“Occupancy at student residences in the Okanagan is certainly down from previous years,” says UBC Okanagan’s Director of Business Operations, Shannon Dunn. “But that also affords us extra capacity to ensure those students who are living on campus can have a safe, comfortable and physically distanced learning experience. We’re hard at work making that a reality.”