Students dropping courses due to extenuating reasons can now appeal for tuition adjustments

UBC enrolment services has implemented a new cross-campus policy to “financially acknowledge” students who have had to discontinue their studies due to extenuating personal or medical circumstances.

According to Darran Fernandez, associate registrar and director of Student Support and Advising, the policy allows affected students to appeal for adjustments in their tuition, which could range from partial reimbursements to full refunds depending on the case.

Fernandez said the policy is meant to assist students who require academic concessions or are forced to withdraw from their courses past the deadline due to extenuating instances such as mental health concerns or family emergencies.

“I can’t guarantee that everything will be approved,” he said. “But there is now an avenue for students to do this where there wasn’t one before.”

Tuition adjustment appeals can also be made by students who have experienced trauma from sexual assault and withdrawn from classes as a result. This process would require a letter from either the AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre or UBC Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Office.

“The grounds that we’re using are extraordinary medical or personal circumstances so in our view that would come under personal circumstances,” Fernandez explained. “Or it could be a medical circumstance if that’s how the student wishes to disclose it.”

He also noted that students have up to one year from when the extenuating circumstances happen to submit an appeal.

How does it work?

Students can be eligible for tuition adjustment if they have applied for academic concession or they have withdrawn past a course deadline.

The appeal process requires students to consult with their enrolment services advisors and fill out the necessary paperwork. The appeal is then submitted for review to a committee made up of students, faculty and staff from both UBC campuses.

According to Fernandez, the committee only meets once a month. As a result, depending on the date the appeal is submitted, the process can last six weeks at most — up to four weeks for the committee to hear the appeal and make a decision, and up to another two weeks to submit the decision.

Students do not have to attend the appeal hearing as the decision is based off of the documentation they submit. The chair of the committee then informs the student of the decision and much tuition will be reimbursed

“There is an avenue for students now to appeal for a portion of tuition back for something that has occurred beyond their own control,” Fernandez said.

According to him, this is one of the few policies of its kind across Canadian universities — but UBC’s enrolment services did base the policy, including the grounds for appeal under extraordinary personal or medical circumstances, off of similar ones at Simon Fraser University and Concordia University.

It is unclear how many students will use this policy, but Fernandez said enrolment services is excited about the learning process and changes it could bring for students.

“There is a lot of opportunity, I think, with this appeal process because I think it will allow us to learn a bit more about why our students may be leaving UBC … and also be able to support our students in the best way possible.”