Tuition increases between two to five per cent will go to UBC's Board of Governors for approval on December 5, after a recommendation on Monday from the Finance Committee.
The committee voted to recommend tuition increases of 5 per cent for new international undergraduate students, 3 per cent for continuing undergraduate international students and 2 per cent for new and continuing domestic undergraduate and graduate students, according to the university's proposal.
All increases are nearly identical to the increases seen last year, with the exception of international graduate students in programs with specialized rates, whose tuition will be raised 2 per cent as opposed to 3 per cent previously.
Tuition increases are controlled by the provincial government’s Tuition Limit Policy, which applies to public post-secondary institutions across the province and limits tuition increases to 2 per cent annually. However, international students are excluded from the policy’s ceiling, permitting UBC to increase tuition for international students beyond the 2 per cent threshold for domestic students.
“Similar to last year,” the proposal reads, “UBC opted for sub-inflationary increases with the intention of smoothing out the unprecedented spike in inflation to protect our incoming students.”
During the meeting, university administrators repeatedly emphasized that these increases are sub-inflationary, and while the increases are expected to provide an additional $27 million in revenue, UBC is still looking at new cost pressures of up to $70 million in the next fiscal year.
“We haven't been in a position like this in the last decade and a half. This has been a period of rising revenues from international tuition — those have plateaued and our expenses continue to increase, so we're at a generational moment of relative austerity,” said Provost and VP Academic Gage Averill.
Student Governor Eshana Bhangu said that despite her recognition of the financial pressures facing the institution the tuition proposal couldn’t earn her support without proportional increases in student aid, particularly for international students.
"There are no need-based support for continuing international students," said Bhangu. "Not seeing so much progress on the introduction of any type of support ... makes it difficult for me to be supportive for increases."
VP Students Ainsley Carry, presenting the results of the tuition engagement survey, said that over 90 per cent of the 3,973 respondents expressed disagreement with increasing tuition. Carry said the results indicate the university has more work to do in informing students about budgetary constraints.
“We have to do more work when educating students about why these increases are needed to operate the university, because, at the same time as students are expressing concerns about increasing rates, they're also expressing concerns about increasing programs and services and housing and dining, etc. Those things have an impact on tuition rates as well,” said Carry to the governors.
Carry also said there is a need to “think differently about international students” about how UBC supports them.
“Our biggest cost is our people,” Chair Nancy McKenzie said, adding that being an “employer-of-choice” in BC is both a source of pride and financial pressure for the institution — and in turn that faculty and staff are also feeling the pressure of inflation and housing affordability individually.
When it came time to vote, Governor Bhangu was the only objection.