Many more UBCO students came from the rest of Canada than from the Okanagan. Most of those students were from Alberta. . - Image Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Has UBC Okanagan failed valley residents?

Peter Wylie, an associate professor at UBCO, makes the case that UBCO has not met aims it set out

Has UBC Okanagan failed area residents?

That’s the case Peter Wylie, an associate professor at UBCO, makes in BC Studies, an academic journal on the study of British Columbia.

“Memorandum of Misunderstanding? Public Accountability and the University of British Columbia,” traces the 2005 establishment of UBC’s Okanagan campus to its current state and finds that few of the institution’s original goals have been realized.

Among other things, Wylie points to a provincial government press release from when the university was established. It claimed the development of the university would “improve access to post-secondary education for local students.”

Brad Bennett, who appointed to the UBCO advisory committee before being appointed chair of the UBC Board of Governors, also said the school would ” be developed by the people in this region, for the people in this region.”

Wylie followed the numbers, however, and found that’s not been the case.

By 2015-16, UBCO was admitting fewer Okanagan students into degree programs than the former Okanagan University College had admitted in its last year of operation, from 2004 to 2005.

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For example, in 2015-16, Wylie found that many more UBCO students came from the rest of Canada than from the Okanagan. Most of those students were from Alberta.

Only 18 per cent of new undergraduate direct-entry students entering UBCO were from the Okanagan region in that year. Moreover, more students came from outside of Canada than from the Okanagan, and about the same number came from Metro Vancouver as from the Okanagan.

All 4,500 of the new university spaces provided by UBCO since 2005, over and above the 3,000 that already existed at the OUC, have gone to students from outside the Okanagan region.

“UBCO has reduced rather than increased the transition to university-level education for Okanagan students; UBCO admissions standards are much higher than they were for OUC,” Wylie wrote.

“Small class sizes, as announced at the beginning, have also not been a priority. In 2016 UBCO had the largest average class sizes of all university campuses in BC at the first- and second-year levels; the second largest at the third-and fourth-year levels; and was the only university campus to have had a significant increase in average class size at the third- and fourth-year levels between 2010 and 2016.”

More to come …

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