UBC begins 2024/25 tuition consultation

UBC has started its 2024/25 academic year tuition engagement consultation.

The tuition engagement process includes creating a tuition engagement website, undertaking a student tuition engagement survey and continuing consultation with the AMS and the Graduate Student Society (GSS) to better understand student priorities.

The student societies have already completed the university’s budgeting sessions as part of their consultation process and will make their submission on their respective priorities before the end of October.

“We're always angling to make sure that education is as affordable as possible,” said VP Academic and University Affairs Kamil Kanji in an interview with The Ubyssey.

Kanji said the AMS is also advocating for other student concerns like campus student housing food insecurity, more investments in the Emergency Bursary Program, expanding career services and increased international student aid.

Similarly, GSS President Sam Kenston outlined the society's priorities for this year’s tuition engagement consultation.

Kenston said the GSS is asking for tuition not to be increased.

Kenston also pointed to UBC historically having a tuition surplus. The reinvestment of tuition funds toward students is another goal for the GSS, specifically in the form of need-based scholarships.

Despite nearly 90 percent of students opposing tuition increases last year, the Board of Governors (BoG) — UBC's highest governing body — still raised tuition by two per cent for domestic students, three per cent for returning international students and five per cent for incoming international students.

“The university’s argument is often that tuition increases are sub-inflationary, which poses a challenge in … [convincing] governors as to why tuition should not be increased,” said Kanji.

Kanji said their strategy is to ensure governors understand "how much a struggle life is for students" regarding school-related costs.

A sentiment echoed by graduate student and CUPE 2278 President Emily Cadger.

“92 per cent of students were like, don’t raise tuition. And they ended up ... raising it. And it just felt like ... a slap in the face just coming out of COVID,” said Cadger.

“It really rubbed people the wrong way because it didn’t feel like these surveys actually mean anything … And [that] their opinions didn’t matter,” said Cadger.

However, Kanji said the surveys were valuable since they allowed the AMS to adopt a data-driven approach for their advocacy “to let the university know that these increases are not favorable to students.”

Both the AMS and GSS said advocacy in the tuition engagement process has yielded positive investments in student concerns, including a student affordability task force and increased investment in financial aid.

“Progress has been made. I would like to feel they are sensitive to our needs, and they are supportive,” said Kenston. “I will wait to see how this goes.”

Kanji echoed a similar perspective, expressing objections to tuition increases are “not always adequately heard by the university” but that it remains “an ongoing conversation.”

Cadger emphasized the need for more advocacy and discussions on the subject.

“I think they’re really starting to try to listen, but ... it’s going to take a little more yelling,” she said.