UBC’s New Vantage College for International Students Only
In a move that might seem a little too mercenary, the University of British Columbia has unveiled plans to build an exclusive new college, along with a 1000-bed residence tower, for affluent international students only. The Vantage College project will cost more than $127 million, but will leave Canadian students on the outside looking in.
The Vantage College website makes the specification for ‘international students only’ very clear. It states: “You can only apply to Vantage College if you are an international student, not a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident.”
The obvious omission of Canadian citizens in the project has some feeling insulted, even angry. Students are speaking out about the University’s plans to rake in more money from foreign applicants, while domestic students deal with tuition increases and inadequate housing. UBC student Aspen Dirk puts it this way: “It’s very disrespectful, and a bit of a slap to the face.”
In a climate of funding shortfalls for post-secondary schools, The Canadian Federation of Students says that trying to lure wealthy students while ignoring existing ones is the wrong way to go about balancing the books. Spokesman Zachary Crispin says: “Vantage College is one instance of where the funding priorities are wrong and what we need to be doing is looking at where we’re failing current and existing students and Canadians who are in the system right now.”
For wealthy Asian students (mostly from China), hoping to attend the future Vantage College, the opportunity might seem like a dream deal. Not only does the college promise a “custom curriculum”, 24/7 support, and smaller class sizes, it will allow academically gifted students to enroll in a special first-year program, even if their language skills or English test scores fail to meet UBC standards. The grand sum of over $50,000 a year will cover an international student’s tuition, accommodation and healthcare.
Besides the overall unfair flavor of the venture, UBC students worry that it will create a wealthy, elite class of unintegrated students, leaving poorer, domestic students behind.
UBC’s associate vice-president of enrolment, Angela Redish, says they’re simply trying to provide a better support system for students whose second language is English, but admits that with financial pressures increasing, they could also use the extra revenue.