Saturday, September 20, 2014
Last updated: 13 hours ago

UBC considering creation of Vancouver School of Economics on campus

The current Department of Economics is on the ninth floor of Buchanan Tower. Arbron/flickr

UBC is considering creating a new school for economics students.

If the UBC Senate passes the proposal, the university’s current department of economics will become the Vancouver School of Economics (VSE) within the Faculty of Arts.

The new school aims to increase the visibility of economics within its faculty and at the university. As the department’s submission to the UBC Senate states, the VSE aspires to “create a globally recognized brand that will attract students from across Canada and the world to graduate and undergraduate programs.”

The VSE will offer majors, combined majors, honours and minors programs. The new school hopes to offer small class sizes sizes and more seats per course by hiring additional faculty members.

As a first step to increase the range of economics programs available to students, the school will offer a new direct-entry bachelor of international economics (BIE) in collaboration with the Sauder School of Business.

Darren Dahl, senior associate dean of Sauder’s faculty and research, said the BIE “will expand opportunities for students interested in receiving training in a broader mix of economics and business, especially as they are applied within an international context.” The program will accept 80 students per year and is expected to attract both domestic and international students.

Other new proposals include joint PhD programs and a professional MA degree.

Economics professor Angela Redish, who has been active in designing the VSE, disclosed plans to boost research opportunities both for students and faculty, addressing one of the main student concerns expressed by the Economics Students Association. The main student request — an informal learning space for economics students — is still under discussion. Redish said the location for the new school has yet to be determined. According to UBC’s most recent budget, some of the school’s operations might be run out of the old SUB once the new SUB is built. The economics department’s offices are currently located in Buchanan Tower.

“We are working hard to ensure that the high reputation that the department of economics has attaches to the VSE; for graduates and undergrads, ‘UBC econ’ means a lot, and we will make sure that the transition adds to the reputation,” said Redish.

“The economics department is extremely active in policy discussions at the provincial (HST, carbon tax), federal (EI, senior policy, monetary policy) and international (IMF, Indian food security) level, and in time, we hope to both expand our capacity in this area and raise awareness of UBC’s policy contributions.”

The proposal awaits a full Senate review in September.