Graduate students at UBCO are advocating for fair funding on par with UBC Vancouver. In a recent petition created by the Student Union of UBCO, they call upon UBC’s administration and the Board of Governors to aid in alleviating some financial barriers by creating a minimum stipend of $22,000 per year over the course of four years for doctoral students.
Graduate students at UBCO play a substantial role in research excellence at this campus and increasing the university’s world-class status. However, financial barriers to education continue to be a problem for many students attending UBCO. Within the petition, research outlines that low-income individuals are less likely to attend university than other students let alone pursue a graduate degree. In addition, insufficient funding (a major concern among graduates) is one of the most common causes of program abandonment. Insufficient funding also has many other implications such as students requiring longer completion times, lower satisfaction with graduate experience, and an increased likelihood of attrition.
While there are programs that guarantee some funding through teaching assistantships and research assistantships, these positions are in high demand, very competitive, or are highly dependent on supervisor funding. However, tri-council funding is not even available to international students who make up a great portion of graduate students. As graduate education is very rigorous, it requires the full attention of students. Other financial commitments, such as finding a part-time job outside of their studies, might draw attention away from focusing on graduate education.
For these reasons, working towards eliminating financial barriers through sufficient funding is very important. There are several ways that UBC can help, and one of the solutions being proposed in this petition is bringing UBCO’s funding model on par with UBC Vancouver’s. At the moment, thesis-based students at UBCO are only receiving about $6,031 per year. However, doctoral students are advocating for a minimum stipend, similar to UBC Vancouver’s, of $22,000 for each of their first four years of their PhD. Not only does this assure students financial support for high-living costs, tuition costs, and resources in Kelowna, but it also allows the university to grow with more outstanding students who wish to pursue a graduate degree.
In a statement written by Cassidy Wallis, College of Graduate Studies Representative SUO, she emphasizes the importance of this petition and advocating for graduate student rights.
"Financial barriers should never stop someone from pursuing an education at any level. Especially when graduate students contribute to our academic institution’s reputation in so many ways. Implementing a minimum stipend for doctorate students could be the first step to a more equitable graduate student experience across campuses. This would contribute to an environment of collaboration in which graduate students can work together to achieve and contribute, rather than one of competition and financial distress in which we are all in direct opposition to obtain scarce financial resources and support from the university. This petition is our chance to have our voices heard and our needs met."
By fighting for these rights, graduate students are fighting for the recognition they deserve which will also aid in enacting further changes in other areas of the university in the future.
Graduate students play an essential role in research excellence on campus and help to increase UBCO’s world-class reputation. As such, the University should provide these students with the funding they require and deserve to aid in their pursuit of higher education.
This petition is open to any student attending UBCO to sign. To find out more about the petition and to contribute some support, please visit this link.