UBC's Student Affordability Task Force releases draft recommendations, calls for multi-year tuition framework

UBC’s Student Affordability Task Force has released a set of draft recommendations after months of discussions.

The Student Affordability Task Force (SATF) — which started meeting in spring 2021 — is focused on a "conceptual understanding of student affordability and an understanding of the scope of the university's commitments towards affordability" and "the known challenges UBC students face in terms of affordability."

On February 17, VP Students Ainsley Carry presented the task force’s draft recommendations to the university’s Board of Governors Finance Committee.

“The task force had many rigorous conversations … to understand the expectation[s] from the students and the university about what it means to invest in education as an individual and as a public good,” he said.

The SATF recommended that UBC improve and increase the number of existing financial planning tools for students and create a year-long tuition engagement process.

"We would like to create a year-long process of engagement with ... both student leaders and elected student leaders ... to learn more about pain points that students are experiencing year-round rather than right before tuition needs to be approved," said Carry.

The task force also recommended that UBC develop a multi-year tuition framework.

"This means [having] the ability to tell a student, at a point of admission, what the tuition will be for the duration of their degree," said Provost and VP Academic Andrew Szeri at the meeting.

Carry added that some recommendations will be short-term — “We can get them done within the next 12 months or at least make significant progress" — and some will be long-term — which would take three to five years to accomplish.

Ahmed Ahmed, the vice-president external for the Students’ Union Okanagan at UBCO and student representative on SATF, spoke to The Ubyssey on the SATF’s draft recommendations.

Regarding the multi-year tuition framework, Ahmed said, "It would fill in the gap between what [expectations] students have for tuition fees [in the next] next few years and what will be realistically happening."

"All student leaders on the task force made it clear that this is not a reason to justify any tuition increases, but [if there is to be a tuition increase], the multi-year tuition framework would [be] a way for students to plan accordingly," he added.

Ahmed stressed that the recommendations have not been finalized and still require approval from the Board of Governors.

In the future, Ahmed said that he hopes for more data and transparency from UBC.

“UBC says that they pay a lot of money for affordability … but at the same time we are still seeing gaps and students feel that life is not affordable on campus,” he said.

"I would like to see UBC [being] more transparent in the process of where does the money go and how does it [go] back to students [in regards to services]."