The University has approved an increase in the annual minimum guaranteed funding package for PhD students, which will be $22000 from September 2021. The current package is $18000.
This welcome increase in a consistent source of income will particularly help the most financially vulnerable students.
This change will bring this core funding above the poverty line benchmark set by the Government of British Columbia at $20,000 per person.
Increasing the minimum stipend was once of the main recommendations from the GSS’s 2019 presentation to the Board of Governors, which was informed by the GSS Student Satisfaction Survey and the GSS 2019 Funding Survey. The responses to the latter survey reinforced the financial challenges graduate students face, with 60% of respondents reporting difficulties managing basic expenses, and signaling the cost of housing as a particularly heavy burden.
This change was driven by a collaborative effort between the Graduate Student Society and the Faculty of Graduate Studies, who have worked with campus partners, to develop this proposal and to ensure that making this change would not adversely affect access to graduate programs, or any student’s existing funding supports.
The increase in minimum funding, coupled with the recent implementation of the President’s Academic Excellence Initiative Award (PAEI), which was also a direct outcome of the advocacy efforts of the GSS, ensures an improvement in affordability for all PhD students, and most significantly for those in the most need. The PAEI was rolled out in Summer of 2020, covering 17% of the tuition cost after awards, and will increase to 25% effective September 2021.
GSS VP Academic and University Affairs Nicolas Romualdi comments: “We’re delighted to see the University endorsing a policy that will support graduate students in such a significant way. It was heartening to see the broad cross campus support for making this change quickly from faculty and administration alike.
Increasing this core funding is the best and most equitable way to ensure that students across all programs, and from all backgrounds can afford graduate studies at UBC.
We believe that funding graduate students benefits the entire University Community, as it allows students to focus their efforts on research rather than finding ways to make ends meet.
I would like to personally thank the Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and her team for all the effort that went into the analysis of this proposal. I would also like to thank my predecessor, Tarique Benbow, for the work done to create and carry out the 2019 GSS Funding Survey, whose results continue to inform and support our advocacy efforts in this area.”