Decoding UBC’s international major entrance scholarship

Every year, UBC offers merit-based scholarships to international students based on their academic achievement and extracurricular involvement.

The scholarships can be classified into the Outstanding International Student (OIS) Scholarship and the International Major Entrance Scholarship (IMES). While the OIS is a one-time scholarship offered to incoming first-year students, the IMES can be renewed for up to three years. IMES is offered to students who display exceptional community and extracurricular involvement along with academic achievement.

The selection criterion for the IMES was determined when it was created by Senate and is tied to the admissions decision.

“The way that it works is when students are admitted and after we see a solid pool [of admitted students], then about three weeks thereafter, a decision is made on whether they're at the top of their group,” said Damara Klaassen, the International Student Initiative’s executive director.

Klaassen explained there is no other criteria used to determine the award recipients.

“There's no weighting beyond what happens as part of the admissions consideration in general. So, those reviewing the files for awards do not go into any more detail beyond what is reviewed for admissions,” she added.

To maintain scholarships, students need to meet certain criteria such as being registered in 24 courses, passing all courses and obtaining a standing in the top 10 per cent of their year and faculty, or an average of 75 per cent or higher.

For the year 2022/23, 99 new IMES scholars joined the UBC Vancouver campus. For the upcoming 2023/24 year, UBC is hoping to admit 125 IMES scholars, but the number would depend on how many recipients accept their offer.

“The year one funding is $20,000. So, the budget last year...was around $2 million. And this year we're hoping [for] 125 [IMES scholars]. So if we can get there, then that would be a first year budget of $2.5 [million]. And then we have a continuing cohort on the Vancouver campus [consisting of] a little bit over 400 students. So then that's a much larger budget,” said Klaassen.

UBC aims to be proportionate across degree programs in awarding the IMES to ensure that the funding is spread across various programs and students. However, the country of origin is not considered when awarding these scholarships because it is not a factor in the admission criteria.

According to Klaassen, the motive behind awarding these scholarships was to admit top students from various countries.

“Students who are looking to study outside of their home country…typically apply to between six or even ten universities. So, [some] students...may have offers of admission to up to 10 different institutions. So, the intent of the award is to recruit and retain top students from a diversity of regions and into a diversity of programs at UBC.”