International student emergency bursary fund increasing due to rise in tuition

Due to recent tuition increases, UBC's emergency bursary fund for international students will be increasing.

Last year, it was announced that international student tuition fees will increase by 46.8 per cent over the next three years. Given that 7.47 per cent of undergraduate student tuition is dedicated to international student financial assistance, the tuition increase means the amount contributed to this fund will increase as well. The percentage of this fund that will go towards the emergency bursary fund will not increase.

In parallel to this positive side-effect, Darran Fernandez, the associate registrar and director of the student support and advising unit in Enrolment Services, mentioned that the university is looking at how to better help international students facing financial distress due to what may be happening in their home country.

“What we've also done is we've looked at [this fund] and decided to think about changes that have occurred in the world since we started that program,’’ said Fernandez. “Currencies have changed and fluctuated greatly [and] political situations have caused students great stress and anxiety, and [students may] have trouble getting funds out of the country.”

According to Samantha So, AMS VP Academic and University Affairs, this emergency funding is greatly needed, especially for international students. The AMS’s Academic Experience Survey noted that 26 per cent of international students indicated that they might not be able to come back to UBC at some point in the future due to financial reasons — something the AMS is also hoping to help remedy.  

The AMS collects a student aid bursary fund — the majority of which they give to UBC to administer through bursaries and some of which they administer themselves to students through their financial hardship subsidies.

“Over the last year, we've been talking to UBC and asking if we can have those funds apply to bursaries for both domestic and international students,” said So. “We see the need there.’’     

UBC responded to this request over the summer and will now have a percentage of those funds allocated to international students, based on international student enrolment.

Given that the 7.47 per cent UBC allocates goes only towards undergraduate students, the AMS wants to work on getting some of the money from the student aid bursary fund to go towards emergency funding for graduate students.

So is happy to see progress, but remains concerned that many students do not know about the support available to them if they are facing one of these situations.

One of the AMS's surveys found that in emergency financial situations, 52.8 per cent of international students do not know where to find help.

‘‘Our greatest goal is that students know where to turn at UBC when they need access to emergency funding, since [UBC is] well equipped to help and because we are channeling funds to be administered through them,’’ said So in an emailed statement to The Ubyssey.