This year brought about the highest admissions cut-offs for UBC in the last five years, seeing increases in the lowest possible entry GPA in every faculty, most notably Land and Food Systems.
“This year, every [faculty] across the board more or less went up. That’s what was unique,” said Associate Director of Enrolment Andrew Arida. “The fact that GPAs went up by a per cent or two wasn’t surprising.”
Each faculty calculates its admissions requirements by placing a cap on the number of students they can take in. Based on supply and demand, the cut-off grade is set at the point where the number of students who applied with that grade or higher is equal to the number of seats available.
According to Arida, the increase in admissions requirements this year was not completely unexpected. Last year, the UBC Senate passed a decision to make the inclusion of provincial exam grades optional for BC high school students.
This year, when universities calculated these students’ admissions averages, they used the higher of the two—either their course grades alone, or their course and exam grades together in a 60–40 per cent ratio, depending on if students attended a school operating under a linear or a semestered curriculum.
Linear schools write their exams at the end of the school year, whereas semestered schools write exams at the end of each semester. Applications to universities usually happen in the spring, so students under semestered curriculums will be evaluated based on a combination of their course and exam grades. At the same time, students following linear curriculums will be evaluated based on course grades alone.
The Senate responded to this by deciding to evaluate students solely on course grades unless their provincial exam grades raised their admissions average.
As well, beginning this year, provincial exam grades were optional in determining admissions average to UBC. This means that drops in grades due to these exams were not a factor.
However, “it’s no more competitive for students inside BC, but it does have [an] impact on students outside BC,” said Associate Dean of Engineering Bruce Dunwoody. He explained that this is because the admissions cut-off is controlled by BC students. Arida added that international students are strongly encouraged to submit a supplemental application when applying to UBC.
Another contribution to the increase in this year’s cut-offs was the increase in the number of students who applied to UBC. “We got a lot of applications this year,” commented Associate Dean of Arts Janet Giltrow. “It was a healthy year.”
On top of the new admissions policy change, the faculty of Land and Food Systems has introduced a new degree program: the Bachelor of Science in Applied Biology. The program is designed to be much more flexible than other Science degrees and is also more research intensive, which has caused higher enrolment.
The faculty cut its enrolment by 50 seats because of this new program. These seats were transferred to the Faculty of Science, and this caused a drastic jump of five per cent in the admissions requirements.
“Whenever you introduce some new degree stream, there’s some challenges to getting courses going, so we don’t want to have so many students that we can’t possibly look after,” said Lynn Newman, Assistant Dean of Students of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems.
Arida said that the admissions requirements are complex because the university is trying to be fair to all students.
“It would be a lot more straightforward if we just said ‘you know, here’s the rule and that’s that,’” he said, “but in the attempt to try and be more fair, it gets more complicated.”
“I know people sometimes wonder it seems strange how we make decisions about who gets in and who doesn’t. It can seem a little arbitrary, but there are a lot of calculations there behind the scenes.”