UBC got some flack this year for their mega tuition increases for international students. Domestic students have been spared from drastic changes in the cost of education in recent years thanks to a BC government policy limiting tuition+fee increases to 2% a year since 2005. But that policy is very quietly being reinterpreted. I have copied a recent Socratic exchange between Neal and I, with a few extra links, to explain.
Neal: If you’re back from China and want a story tip, I’ve got one for you. Also we bought a futon so you are welcome to visit any time!
Maayan: Hi Neal! I’m back to Vancouver. But I don’t really want to get bogged down with reporting a story right now since I’m starting my comp exams. Better give it to the Ubyssey. What’s it about though (out of curiosity)
N: AvEd [The BC Ministry of Advanced Education -ed] opened a giant loophole in its tuition policy for fee increases. Before, fees + tuition were considered part of an overall envelope. Various components within the envelope could go up by more or less than 2% but the entire envelope could not go up by more than 2%. So you couldn’t introduce a new fee without something else decreasing or being frozen.
M: Except for AMS fees – like the fee for the new Nest is outside of the 2% calculation.
N: Yes. Also new tuition.
M: Ah. What’s new tuition by the way? Tuition for new programs?
N: Yeah for new programs. That’s always been exempt, along with AMS fees.
M: And now other fees can go up more than 2% without affecting the tuition calculation?
N: Right. Now, AvEd has “reinterpreted” the tuition limit policy to say that new fees don’t count towards that calculation, the same way as new tuition is exempt. So BoG could create a whole new fee, call it whatever the hell they want, for whatever amount they want, and it would be allowed. The new “UBC excellence fee” of $500/year per student or whatever. So it’s a loophole big enough to drive a truck through.
M: Was the 2% cap legislated or just a ministerial directive thingy?
N: It was just ministerial policy. And the wording of it hasn’t changed, just the official ministry interpretation of it.
M: And this is documented how…?
N: A college invented a new fee, mentioned it in the Board documentation to support the fee (look starting on page 60). Now that I google it, this was apparently in the news in March. So it’s not like it’s a scoop… I wasn’t paying attention
M: We should still post about it ….looks like it’s way under the radar
N: If only to use the phrase “UBC Excellence fee” sarcastically and then probably have them create a fee with that exact name. Now go study for your comps