Vancouver or Okanagan campus? Preferred choice not an option for many students

Thousands of high school applicants were admitted to UBC last year, but not to their preferred campus.

UBC's Okanagan campus, formerly Okanagan University College, is located in Kelowna, B.C. and became part of UBC in 2005. Of 3,295 applicants who listed UBC Vancouver as their first choice of campus and UBCO as their second last year, 1,076 were only accepted to the Okanagan campus.

“Really it’s no different than why is a student admitted into arts as opposed to sciences,” said UBC’s Associate Registrar, Andrew Arida. “Every program has a different target, every program has a different applicant pool, and the ratio of how many applicants to how many spaces is what determines how competitive things get.”

According to Arida, UBC campuses and faculties enroll students to a target. Students are evaluated based on the competitiveness of the applicant pool in order to meet that target.

“Let’s say Vancouver took in 200 engineers whereas the Okanagan only took in a 100, then, all things being considered equal, it would be easier to get into Vancouver than the Okanagan,” said Arida. “But if I had five times as many applicants for Vancouver as I do for Okanagan, then it begins to sort of even out.”

In the case of last year, a total of 21,763 applicants listed UBC Vancouver as their first choice of campus and 2,834 preferred UBC Okanagan. According to Arida, it is difficult to say how competitiveness compares annually since competition varies from year to year and from program to program.

According to Arida, it isn't necessarily the case that those 1,076 weren't admitted to UBC because UBCO's admissions averages are lower for some programs.

“It could be that it’s lower but again ... the reason it’s lower is because of the supply and demand equation,” said Arida. "If the number of applicants was half the size, the competitiveness would go down. It’s just about saying based on the applications we’ve got we think we can accommodate a few more."

Since the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses each have their own senates that are in charge of admission standards, the minimum requirements of each campus differ.

For students, this means they will not always get their first choice of UBC institution even though they will receive a UBC degree if they get into either.

Last year, 19 applicants to UBC Vancouver and 10 at UBC Okanagan were given an "alternate offer." This is when a student is admitted to a program that they did not apply for on either campus if there are seats in that program and the program is relevant to what the student originally asked to study.