Senate Summed Up: Senate passes cost cap for students on digital assessment tools

UBC's Vancouver Senate met Wednesday night to once again discuss international affiliation agreements and pass a policy on the cost of digital assessment tools. 

Here is what you might have missed.

New policy on cost of digital assessment tools

Senators discussed and approved Policy V-131: Fee-Based Digital Learning Tools Used for Assessment. The policy encompasses pay-to-access platforms where students are assessed through quizzes, assignment submissions, exams, or similar activities that contribute to a student’s grade.

Dr. Kin Lo, chair of the Academic Policy Committee, told senators the policy puts two constraints on digital assessments: first, a price limit for these tools of 12 per cent of the Bachelor of Arts per credit tuition fee. Next year, the price limit for a three-credit course will be $70. Second, these digital assessments can be used for only up to 20 per cent of their final grade. 

“The percentage limit balances the benefits of such tools to support student learning as currently employed in a wide variety of course designs against the principle that tuition should cover the cost of assessment or—where there is an appropriate pedagogical and logistical reason to use these tools—the majority of assessment,” the senate report says.

“By the beginning of the 2028/29 academic year,” the report says, “Senate expects that such costs for students will be eliminated, through continued development and adoption of Open Educational Resources (OERs) or by absorbing costs centrally and/or within Faculties.”

The policy excludes materials that do not directly contribute to a course mark and materials that students keep beyond the course like lab equipment, textbooks and books.

The policy will be reviewed in three years and requires annual reports from the Provost on steps taken toward its implementation.

International partnerships

Last Senate meeting, a motion was referred back to committee regarding the approval of an affiliation between Allard and the Faculty of Law at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand, with Senators requesting it not be brought back to a vote until the Provost’s office produces a report on international agreements. 

On Wednesday, Senate heard a presentation from Vice-Provost, International pro tem Rumee Ahmed. His office governs UBC agreements with other institutions, including non-binding documents, MOUs and student exchange programs.

Ahmed told senators that while UBC has about 450 international partnerships, the university has no central system to track these partnerships fully. 

Rumee said that the office will be consulting with faculties to hear what considerations they make regarding human rights concerns when engaging in partnership discussions. Additionally, Rumee said the office aims to have a new partnership management system up and running for the summer, coinciding with the end of the first round of partnership-principles consultations.