The students were the big winners at yesterday’s UBC Board of Governors meeting. Credits go to a disciplined, focused and resourceful UBC Administration that has come a long way, and to exceptional student representatives, notwithstanding the little help that both got from their friends on the Board.
The Board approved yesterday 3 items that are hugely beneficial to current and future UBC students:
1. The capping of tuition fees at 2% for the current cohort of international students for the next 3 years.
2. A payment of $2 million towards the $17.9 million loan that the commerce students are supposed to pay through fees for the next 35 years. The loan was taken in order to fund Phase 2 renovations of the Sauder School building. The reimbursement is expected to reduce the amortization period by 7 years.
3. Last but not least is the establishment of the “Student Housing Financing Endowment”. The endowment will be supported by a portion of the proceeds of land development on campus. Normally, all proceeds go directly to the UBC endowment where it is invested in the market. This would now help finance the $136m Ponderosa complex with 1,100 student beds, which was also approved in yesterday’s Board meeting. It is worth noting that government does not fund student housing projects, and BC Universities are not allowed to borrow. As Toope says in a UBC press release, “The Student Housing Financing Endowment will allow the University to pursue student housing objectives without incurring the extra cost of market borrowing…”
This is a major development for UBC, and as I said in the Board meeting, it may as well be one of the main legacies of the University’s current Administration.
Toope also adds, “This endowment will be one tool for delivering on the Housing Action Plan for students, faculty and staff that the University is now elaborating.”
I should add that in a perfect textbook application of Lyndon Johnson’s famous doctrine on “directing certain fluid flows”, the BoG has asked me to chair the task group that will develop the UBC “Housing Action Plan”. I am looking forward to this challenge.