RELEASE: Financial Hardship for Graduate Students at UBC on the Rise

on August 28, 2015
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MEDIA RELEASE  |  August 28, 2015

 Vancouver, BC – The recent article in The Province: Campus food banks fill growing need in struggle to help out hungry B.C. students, stating “Food bank co-ordinator Jay Singh estimates up to 75 percent of clients are graduate students.” describes but one of the symptoms of an increasingly impoverished graduate student population at UBC.

“Our organization is acutely aware of this fact,” says Tobias Friedel, President of the Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver. “Graduate students have voiced their concern regarding their financial support provided by the university. In the GSS’ 2015 Graduate Satisfaction Survey, 50% of the respondents indicated dissatisfaction with their level of funding, and 24% reported they did not receive any funding at all. 64% of the respondents experienced some level of financial stress, with 14% to such a degree that they considered abandoning their studies altogether.”

The reasons for the current situation are manifold.

British Columbia lacks a provincial graduate scholarship program that many other provinces have in place to support graduate student research. The need for more financial support has been identified by various student groups across Canada since 2012, including the Research Universities’ Council of BC, the Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society, the Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society, the Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver and the Alliance of BC Students.

The Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies at UBC has not implemented minimum funding packages as has been done in other Canadian universities such as the University of Toronto. “Graduate student funding at UBC varies significantly across programs and supervisors,” Friedel states. “While some graduate students are doing fairly well, others have serious difficulty making ends meet.”

Wages for teaching assistants are not indexed. Payments for research assistantships are not adjusted annually and stay constant for longer periods.

Graduate students face continuously rising living expenses, particularly given Vancouver’s overheated housing market.

These factors have contributed to an escalation of the financial distress of graduate students at UBC over past years.

For more information, please contact Tobias Friedel, President of the Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver, at president@gss.ubc.ca.

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The Graduate Student Society of UBC Vancouver (GSS) is an independent student society that advocates for over 10,000 graduate students at UBC Vancouver to the administration of UBC and all government levels to enhance graduate student experience. The GSS was incorporated under the Society Act of BC in 1982. For more information, visit www.gss.ubc.ca.

For more information or to arrange an interview:
Tobias Friedel, GSS President
Email: president@gss.ubc.ca

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RELEASE: Financial Hardship for Graduate Students at UBC on the Rise