International students no longer eligible for Trek Excellence Scholarship

Starting this fall, international students will no longer be able to receive the Trek Excellence Scholarship, which was previously available to all students at UBC.

The Trek Excellence Scholarship is a merit-based scholarship for continuing students in the top five to ten per cent of their undergraduate year, faculty and school. The award value ranged from 1,000 to 4,000 dollars and was automatically applied to the recipient’s student account.

A recent update on UBC’s awards, scholarships and bursaries web page indicates the Trek Excellence Scholarship will now only be available to Canadian citizens or permanent residents in the top five per cent of their undergraduate year, faculty or school.

The Trek Excellence Scholarship was one of the only automatic awards available to continuing international students, while most other awards, scholarships and programs for international students are application-based.

In a written statement to The Ubyssey, Stuart Floyd, director of international recruitment, scholarships and awards, said his office made the decision in 2019, but it was “put on hold” due to the pandemic.

Funding previously allocated to the Trek Scholarship for international students will now be reallocated to more “impactful” and “valuable” awards, scholarships and programs, Floyd wrote.

His statement cited examples including the International Community Achievement Award, as well as Go Global and Work Learn funding opportunities for international undergraduate students, which “support a greater number of students.”

Floyd also wrote that the AMS supported the change.

“The AMS budget submissions for 2022/23 and 2023/24 recommended closing down automatically adjudicated awards and redistributing the funds to more valuable experiential awards.”

The Ubyssey did not hear from the AMS by publishing time.

Nandita Parmar, a recent graduate from the Faculty of Arts, said it can be financially challenging to be in university, whether domestic or international, but as an international student, she felt less supported by the university.

“For me, finances have been impacted by every kind of decision UBC [has made], from tuition fee increases, to not having such scholarships,” said Parmar.

She stressed the importance of transparent communication from the university, since the removal of the scholarship was not publicly announced.

“It would be nice as students of an institution to have some openness in regards to where these funds are going. And if they're being reallocated, are they still helping us?” Parmar asked.

According to the statement, “a brief update regarding [the changes] was posted on the [scholarship] information page … last year.”

Parmar also said, “it’s important to take the extra steps to make sure that we're being told what's happening, and how the money is being spent. It’s part of our relationship with the university … a reciprocal relationship and not just a one way thing.”

“It feels like a step back.”