BoG approves proposal for tuition increases with conditions, will vote on it next week

The Board of Governors has voted to approve the proposal for international student tuition increases with several conditions.

The Board will insist on a clear outline of how the administration’s proposed 2.5 per cent allocation of the revenue from tuition going towards diversity will be spent.

The Board’s Finance and Property Committee also brought up issues with the administration’s benchmarking process and will advise the Board to suggest the administration revisit it in cooperation with students. This was a win for the AMS who, in their presentation to Board today, pointed to large irregularities in the university’s benchmarking process such as inconsistent methodologies used to benchmark.

“There’s a degree of uncertainty and I’m going to have to call upon the students and the administration to reach an agreement … prior to the [next] Board meeting,” said Greg Peet, chair of the finance committee.

Several conditions were suggested by the committee relating to how the administration should move forward with benchmarking. The first is to cut $2,000 from the proposed tuition fees for the four major programs — arts, science, commerce and applied science.

Peet, who had serious concerns about how many of these programs were benchmarked, said the administration should “[do] the right thing” in terms of benchmarking for Master's programs and be “accommodating to students” on degree programs created in the last two years.

“This is the first time the Board of Governors has substantially listened to students,” said Jenna Omassi, AMS VP Academic and University Affairs. “Have all our concerns been met? No. But this is a step the right direction and this goes to show that when you come up with a rational data-based argument — along with student unrest and support — you can be successful.”

The final condition was a clearer terms of reference for how the university’s Strategic Fund, which under the current allocation model will receive over 60 per cent of the revenue gained from tuition increases, will be governed and managed.

Peet expressed disappointment at the unresolved disagreements between students and the administration on the tuition proposal.

“I had a dream that … it would be a logical fact-based discussion and that students — while opposing tuition as a principle — and the administration could get a lot closer. So I'm a little disappointed that we have as little agreement as we have so far,” said Peet. “It is a big change in policy, so perhaps the reality is it's very hard to get it exactly right the first time when the movements are so large.”

Julie Van de Valk and Veronica Knott — the two UBC Vancouver student representatives on Board — voted against the approval due to lingering concerns about the proposed increases. The UBC Okanagan students’ representative, Jeff Krupa, abstained.

“I'm an engineer,” said Knott. “This should be factual. We shouldn't have these massive discrepancies between the benchmarking numbers…. We need to make the whole thing conditional to move forward until we have a better proposal.”

“When you have an imperfect situation, you find some sort of solution that makes no one happy or everyone equally unhappy,” said Peet of the conditions put forward today. “Listening to the sensibilities around the board discussion, we've listened to the students [and] we've listened to the executive.”