The Board of Governors meeting for March/April has once again rolled around. Today is the Board Committees Meeting, with the full board meeting being April 8th. The agenda has a number of interesting elements on it, including details of UBC’s next budget, updates on the UBC Transit Line study, the tuition fee increases for next year, and more.

As always, if you have any thoughts or comments about these items or any others on the agenda, you can email the student Board reps, Mike Duncan and Bijan Ahmadian, who will be transitioning to the new student reps after this meeting.

Read on for a detailed analysis of what I consider to be some of the more interesting items on the agenda.

Item 3.3: UBC Line Update

This item provides an update on the UBC Line transit study that TransLink and various partners (including UBC) are undertaking. I won’t go into immense detail about that particular study, as it’s something I can ramble on about for hours, and is slightly off tangent for this post.

The board report, however, does bring to light a few interesting things. Firstly, UBC has hired their own transit consultant to estimate riderships and calculate pass-ups. According to the report, their consultant has come up with some very different numbers than TransLink did. Specifically, while TransLink has been maintaining that the first leg of the Broadway corridor (Commercial->Granville) has the highest ridership, UBC’s consultant has shown that ridership seems to be higher on the UBC-side of the route, particularly in peak periods. UBC also did a survey on pass-ups in the morning at Commercial Drive station, and as anyone who’s ever waited for a bus there knows, there are a *lot* of pass-ups.

Estimate Source Blanca<->Wesbrook Ridership Main<->Granville Ridership Pass-Ups @ Commercial
TransLink 2,500-3,000 3,500+ 900
UBC 3,875 3,190 2,000

UBC is also apparently pushing a no-transfer line from Commercial to UBC, which is good for students, since there have been many discussions about rapid transit to Granville or Arbutus, with a bus line the rest of the way to campus. With UBC pushing a same-technology line the whole way, hopefully this means Skytrain (or equivalent) all the way here. The University has also emphasized that consultations on campus should be held soon, during the school term when students can participate easier. Hopefully they get their request, as the public consultations aren’t currently scheduled to start until summer.

Item 5.1: Fee Annual Reports

Arguably the biggest and “most controversial” issue on the Agenda (depending on who you talk to), this item sets the tuition and University fees for the next school year. Essentially, all Domestic tuition is being raised by 2% (the limit set by the Province), while International tuition is raising by 4%, a 3% inflationary raise, plus a 1% increase which will go to International student aid.

Some interesting statistics from the tuition consultation are also presented in the motion. Apparently 2,327 undergraduate students (32.6% of respondents) will be forced to consider not returning to UBC due to the 2% increase, and 51% of respondents feel that paying for ~29% of our education through tuition is too high. Interestingly, graduate students have a somewhat different perspective on the issue, with only 20% feeling they may have to consider leaving UBC due to the increases.

No matter the results, I don’t think anyone is surprised by the increases. The costs of our education go up with inflation every year, and the money has to come from somewhere. While some groups of students may protest UBC’s increases to fees, it’s ironic when you consider the survey also shows students desire better “course choice and availability”. If costs increase, but they can’t raise tuition, how do you expect our education quality to stay the same, let alone improve? Efforts would be better served if they were directed towards the government to increase provincial funding of our education system.

Item 5.8: 2010/2011 Operating Budget

The other “big” item on this board agenda is UBC’s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Few details are provided in the online package, but the big news here is that UBC will have a structurally balanced budget, with combined operating revenue (from both campuses) up $32M.

Coincidentally enough, there was also a budgetary shortfall of $32M which had to be addressed. This will be covered in part through the tuition increases, as well as across the board administrative and faculty cuts, with a total of $11M cut to Faculties. Unfortunately, this once again means cuts to the level of service provided by faculties, and our quality of education will suffer.

Item 7.8: Board 1, 2 & 3 for Thunderbird Stadium and Lord & Buck Field Replacements

It’s a bit unusual to see combined Board 1, 2 and 3, although this being a $2.6M project of a fairly simple nature it’s not overly surprising that things would be rushed through fairly quickly. This project includes replacing the grass in Thunderbird Stadium with artificial turf, as well as re-grassing Lord & Buck Fields following their asphalt conversion during the Olympics. Budget for this project isn’t a concern, as the funding comes largely from VANOC as repayment for the resurfacing of Lord & Buck fields. What is worth noting, however, is that this will mean a permanent end to any outdoor concerts in Thunderbird Stadium, as the artificial turf will not be built to accommodate events of that nature.

Other notable items include:
Conditional Board 1 for the new Student Union Building, which will allow the AMS to proceed with architect selection;
Board 2 for Totem In-fill Student Housing, a project to build 2 six-story buildings with a total of 567 new beds;
Board 2 for a new Pharmaceutical Sciences Building, which is in the the running to become, in this editor’s opinion, by far the most hideous architectural monstrosity to grace this campus thus far (Three words: Square Glass Tumors);

I would also like to extend a welcome to our newly elected incoming student board reps, Sean Heisler and Azim Wazeer, who will be taking office following the April 8th meeting!


2 Comments so far

  1. gerry mcgeough on March 24, 2010 3:51 pm

    hi andrew, good to see you weighing on on the design issues. your thoughts on the Pharamacy are quite strong and negitive so I thought i would add some context. the design was extrememly well recevied by both the many people from the F of Pharmancy that participated in the deisgn process and Advisory Urban Design Panel. they are 7 external design professionals (no eng mind you) that advise UBC on development applications. take a look at the full design package for the project ( I have one if you need it) and at education project that Saucier Perrotte Architects, the lead designers, have completed.

    i think it merit a second look.

    Cheers Gerry,

  2. n/a on March 28, 2010 10:38 am

    The Pharmacy Building looks like something Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry would have designed, only without taste.

    A great big black box is a great way to ruin what is currently a wonderful open-space.

    I guess the building can symbolize the black-hole into which all commentary from public consultation goes at UBC.

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