Why UBC still doesn't have a fall reading break, in numbers

Every year, students call on UBC for a fall reading break. And every year, we don't get one.

To break down why a break doesn’t exist despite years of lobbying, The Ubyssey dug into the factors and figures that make implementing a break so complicated.

We looked at data from some of Canada’s largest schools (in terms of overall student enrolment) from coast to coast across the country and asked whether or not they have fall reading breaks, how long those breaks are and how many instructional days each school has.

The biggest problem? Teaching days. Specifically, there aren’t enough of them.

“UBC has the second-lowest number of instructional days of any major Canadian university,” said Senate Academic Policy Chair Dr. Paul Harrison.

As a result, it’s difficult to find space for an additional break. Harrison says students he’s consulted say that they don’t want class time to be lowered.

“We haven’t really heard a push from students to lower the amount of instructional days,” added AMS VP Academic and University Affairs Max Holmes in a previous interview with The Ubyssey.

Out of the 13 schools The Ubyssey surveyed — the largest Canadian schools from across the country based on enrolment — the only three to not have a fall reading week were UBC, McGill and Simon Fraser University.

UBC has a total of 122 days over its academic year. Comparatively, McGill has the highest number of days at 130 and no fall reading break, while the University of Toronto has the lowest at only 119 days with a five-day fall break in November.

A few schools, like the University of Waterloo, have extended their breaks by tacking on a few extra days to pre-existing long weekends like Thanksgiving to create four or five-day weekends.

Dalhousie University and the University of Alberta extended the same model by adding short breaks after Remembrance Day to give their students a full week off.

Across Canada, universities are finding ways to give their students a break, big or small, in the fall term. UBC is looking more and more like an outlier, even as students push for a relief from the stress and mental health concerns of one long term.

With files from Henry Anderson and Emma Livingstone.