“We want to assure our community that UBC is committed to global engagement and will always support students, faculty and staff from around the world, particularly those who may be witnessing trauma from world events,” the statement read.
In a statement sent to The Ubyssey, Matthew Ramsey, director of university affairs at UBC Media Relations, said that the fee was waived as a response to the extenuating circumstances being faced by certain prospective students who are applying to UBC from different countries.
“UBC has a long standing policy to waive the application fee for applicants to graduate programs from countries that are listed on the United Nations least developed countries list,” said Ramsey.
The fee is not only waived for those individuals who hold citizenship, but also those with a permanent address in Afghanistan.
While it is difficult to measure the impact made by the fee waiver as of now, the intention of the waiver was to make UBC more accessible to Afghan students in their time of need.
Other than the waiver, UBC has also taken other measures to help Afghans. Veterans Transition Network is a charity created by UBC’s faculty of education, which has helped over 1,275 veterans.
Seventy-five students, staff and faculty at UBC are veterans or active-serving military who plan to extend support and mentorship to prospective Afghan students who are affected by the current conflict.
Is the waiver a step in the right direction?
In an interview with The Ubyssey, Dr. Naveena Naqvi, assistant professor of Persianate Islamic cultures of South Asia, said that UBC’s decision to waive the application fee “seems like it's a step in the right direction.”
But Naqvi also spoke of other ways the UBC community can help Afghan students feel comfortable on and off campus.
Along with that, Naqvi said that it is important to keep Afghan cultures alive on campus, such as Dari or Pashtun language-driven student clubs, so that students feel comfortable and at home.
“We're just entering the university environment, and moving from one university culture to another is always a challenge, moving from one country to another is always a challenge… so faculty, students and administrators can be welcoming to people,” Naqvi said.
Kimani Karangu, president of UBC’s Graduate Student Society, also commented on the waiver in a statement sent to The Ubyssey.
“While this [waiver] will help those students intending to join, we must also think about those that are already in the system,” he said.
Karangu said that an emergency trust fund could be set up by UBC for Afghan students, that could be accessed “to support their academics and life as they try to come to terms with the plight of their dislocated families.”