The Equity and Inclusion Office is launching a “Commitment to Diversity Fund” in response to concerns raised by the AMS that the 46.8 per cent increase in tuition fees for international students may impact diversity at UBC. One million dollars will be released in 2017 and an additional two million will be released the following year.
“There's a significant amount of money being made available and it does really allow us to create some culture change if we can use it effectively,” said Sara-Jane Finlay, UBC's associate VP Equity and Inclusion. “In order to do that, we have to be continually checking that what we're doing is having some impact and is improving the experience for students.”
The AMS will be collaborating with the Equity Office to develop a strategy that would allow the Diversity Fund to be used effectively to improve the university experience for students, both recreationally and academically.
Samantha So, AMS VP Academic and University Affairs, emphasizes that a main focus of the fund will be making UBC more inclusive and encouraging students from different backgrounds to apply.
“It's a project that aims to promote diversity at UBC ... because they acknowledge the increases they made two years ago could be restrictive to students that come from diverse background and experiences,” said So. “Like, students who are the first in their family to come to a college or University or students from [different] socio-economic backgrounds ... students from the LGBTQ community.”
Despite the fund's origins in concern surrounding international tuition hikes, it will not focus solely on aiding that issue.
“[We] recognize that once we have recruited students, we need to retain them and we need to support them to be successful,” said Finlay. “That is work we need to do with both the international students who come here [and] the domestic students who are already [here] so that we all develop skills, and are able to work better by recognizing our sameness and working across our differences to really enrich the experience for everyone.”
The allocation of the Commitment to Diversity Fund will be modified based on input, which students will be able to start providing in January.