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UBC Students Welcome $2 Billion Investment in Affordable Housing

The University of British Columbia Graduate Student Society (GSS) and Alma Mater Society (AMS) welcome BC Government’s announcement of $2 billion of investment for construction of affordable housing. The investment, administered by BC’s HousingHub in the form of low-interest loans to developers and community groups, will support construction of thousands of new homes across BC.

Since it was established in 2018, BC HousingHub has supported development of rental homes and affordable housing. This recent investment will allow HousingHub to invest in additional rental and affordable housing projects over the next decade.

Affordable housing continues to be a top priority for UBC students throughout the Lower Mainland. The announced investment brings forwards opportunities to fund the building of greater affordable rental housing options for students. The AMS and GSS look forward to working with government to identify opportunities to build affordable rental units for students across the province. We hope that this funding will allow student unions and post-secondary institutions across British Columbia to create more affordable housing for students.

UBC Alma Mater Society (AMS) and the UBC Graduate Student Society (UBC-GSS) represent over 60,000 undergraduate and graduate students at University of British Columbia Vancouver.


Quotes
“Housing affordability has been a great concern for people across the province but particularly for our student groups who have to bear the burden of paying tuition on top of skyrocketing rental costs. This investment provides an opportunity to build greater affordable rental units for students who live off-campus and we look forward to working with the BC Government to address housing affordability for students.”
Alireza Kamyabi, Vice-President External Relations, UBC Graduate Student Society

“The lack of affordable housing has been a significant stressor for students in the region, especially during the ongoing pandemic. These crucial investments made by our government is a great step towards making affordable housing more available and accessible to British Columbian students.”
Kalith Nanayakkara, Vice-President External Affairs, UBC Alma Mater Society

New Pathway to Permanent Residency, a Welcome Boost for International Graduate Students

The GSS is excited to see the Federal Governements’ announcement of a new pathway to permanent residence for international graduates.

The policy opens a new opportunity for 90,000 essential workers and recent international graduates to achieve permanent residence. 40,000 places are allocated for international students who have completed a degree at a post-secondary institution in the last 4 years.


GSS VP External, Alireza Kamyabi comments: “Graduate students from across the world choose to study in Canada. Whilst they are here, they contribute hugely to the country’s economy, generating new knowledge in a host of fields.

We are pleased that this new announcement recognises the contributions that international students make, and the value of keeping such skilled workers in Canada.”

The new programs come into effect on May 6, 2021 and will remain open until November 5, 2021, or until they have reached their limit.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) will be accepting applications under the following 3 streams:

  • 20,000 applications for temporary workers in health care
  • 30,000 applications for temporary workers in other selected essential occupations
  • 40,000 applications for international students who graduated from a Canadian institution

Alireza Continues “ For all graduate students finding employment after graduation is a major source of worry and we hope this new pathway will help skilled graduates remain in Canada by allowing them a smooth transition to permanent resident status.”

More information about the announcement can be found here

Graduate Student Societies Of BC Welcome Funding and Extension of BC Graduate Scholarships Program

[Vancouver, BC – April 1, 2021] The Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia (GSSBC) enthusiastically welcome the government’s announced funding of $3.75 million to extend the BC Graduate Scholarship Program and support over 250 graduate student researchers across the province over the next two years.

The BC Graduate Scholarship, introduced by the BC government in 2018, has provided merit-based funding to over 800 graduate students across BC since its inception. The announced additional investment would ensure the program is funded to provide support for 250 highly skilled and talented graduate students across the province over the next two years.

The BC Graduate Scholarship plays a key role in helping the province attract top students to pursue graduate education in BC. Those who are selected for a BC Graduate Scholarship receive a minimum of $15,000 to support and fund their research activities.

GSSBC would like to thank Minister Anne Kang and the government for listening to graduate students and supporting graduate student research in the province. GSSBC will continue its advocacy efforts and work with the BC Government to establish the BC Graduate Scholarship as a permanent fixture of post-secondary funding as well as expanding the program to support graduate student researchers in non-STEM disciplines.

Quotes
“We are thankful to the Ministry for extending the BC Graduate Scholarship. Graduate students are the drivers of research and innovation in BC at a time when we need it most. This funding is a much-needed investment to support and revamp BC’s research and innovation capacity. In an increasingly knowledge-driven economy, grad students are the future researchers, knowledge leaders and experts we need to develop the next stage of BC’s economy post-COVID19.
Alireza Kamyabi, Chairperson of Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia

“Funding for graduate students is a big step towards making post-secondary education more accessible to the society at large. We are grateful that the government is working towards breaking down systemic barriers.”
Abby Dooks, Chair of The University of Northern British Columbia GSS


About Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia
Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia (GSSBC) is composed of the University of British Columbia Graduate Student Society, the Graduate Student Society at Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria Graduate Students’ Society and the Northern British Columbia Graduate Student Society, together representing over 18,000 students in BC. The purpose of GSSBC is to represent and advocate for the interests of all graduate students in BC.

UBC-GSS Welcomes Funding and Extension of BC Graduate Scholarships Program

The University of British Columbia Graduate Student Society (UBC-GSS) is delighted by today’s announcement by the BC Government of the extension of the BC Graduate Scholarship with $3.75 million in additional funding over the next two years. The investment supports 250 scholarships for students in graduate degree programs at 10 public post-secondary institutions. Each award will be for a minimum of $15,000.

The BC Graduate Scholarship, introduced by the BC government in 2018, provides merit-based funding to hundreds of highly skilled and talented graduate students across the province. The Program plays a key role in helping the province attract top talent to pursue graduate education in BC.

Increasing government support and funding for graduate education has been a priority advocacy item for the UBC-GSS. The Society has been a strong advocate for extension of the BC Graduate Scholarship since its inception in 2018. Recommendations to make the BC Graduate Scholarship program a permanent fixture in the post-secondary funding landscape was a top priority item in UBC-GSS 2020 BC Budget Submission.


“We’re delighted that the BC Government has chosen to support the continuation of the BC Graduate Scholarship program. Extending this funding has been an advocacy priority for successive GSS Executive teams and we have been lucky to have strong support from the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and partners at other Universities in making that case to the province. It is exciting to see that work bear fruit.”

Kimani Karangu, UBC-GSS President

“Graduate students are the drivers of research and innovation in BC at a time when we need it most. They play a key role in helping BC address many of the pressing challenges we face today, like climate change and COVID-19, by developing innovative new solutions. This funding is a much-needed investment to support and revamp BC’s research and innovation capacity. In an increasingly knowledge-driven economy, grad students are the future researchers, knowledge leaders and experts we need to develop the next stage of BC’s economy post-COVID19.”

Alireza Kamyabi, UBC-GSS VP External Relations


For Further Information contact:

  • Kimani Karangu, President UBC Graduate Student Society


  • Alireza Kamyabi, VP External Relations UBC Graduate Student Society

University Announces Funding Boost for PhD Students

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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.” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

GSS Council Summary – December 2020

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Welcome to the summary of GSS Council on December 10, 2020 (December’s Council happens on the 2nd Thursday instead of the 3rd to allow our Councillors to take a break for the holidays, even though that might not involve travel this year!).

Congratulations to our new Councillor(s): Bethany Adair (Medical Geneticfs), Taryn Scarff (Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries), William Canero (School of Community and Regional Planning), and the re-election of Virginia Pichler (Microbiology and Immunology).

We also welcome a lot of new and renewed Affiliated Organizations: Chemical and Biological Engineering (CHBE) Graduate Student Council, GrasPods (BC Cancer Graduate Student and Post Doctoral Fellow Society), Geography Graduate Student Association, Institute of Ocean and Fisheries Graduate Student Society, and IDEAS (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Access and Safe Space).


 

Council heard several important guest presentations, including:

  • one from our very own Dean Susan Porter from the Faculty of Postdoctoral and Graduate Studies about the Graduate Life Centre project and the successful advocacy to increase minimum funding for PhD students;
  • the annual audit presentation from our accountants (our paperwork got a shoutout);
  • and a set of presentations from StudentCare, the company that provides your Extended Health & Dental Plan, on some possible options for a legal representation service for students

Council passed a “consent agenda”, a set of bylaw amendments previously approved for the 2020 AGM to be included in the upcoming referendum, and some larger ones separately also for referendum. These included proposed changes that are small and “housekeeping” in nature like how we edit our Policy Manual typos (exciting!), to larger proposals such as a new fee to maintain the GSS Graduate Student Financial Aid, an emergency fund for graduate students that are in financial distress. All these proposed amendments can be found in the Council minutes and will appear in the upcoming referendum in early 2021. Other discussion maters included updates on the VP University & Academic Affair, Nicolas Romualdi, and his office’s work setting remote invigilation policies, a financial update from Financial and Executive Oversight Officer Tayo Olarewaju, debate on endorsing the #StudentsforLoujain campaign, and updates on committee goals from the Governance & Accountability committee.

As always, minutes will be available once approved on the GSS website for more details. The next meeting will be on Thursday, January 21, 2021. All graduate students are welcome to attend!

 

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BC Provincial Government forms Cabinet

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]On November 26, 2020, the provincial government swore in its new Executive Council under the leadership of Premier John Horgan.

The UBC AMS and GSS would like to congratulate all new cabinet members on their appointments and specifically, their commitment towards providing British Columbia with leadership throughout these unprecedented times. Additionally, we would like to congratulate Minister Anne Kang, a former AMS and GSS member, on their appointment to the role of Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training.

We look forward to working with them and their ministry towards making certain that post-secondary students are supported during these unsure times. We would also like to thank Minister Melanie Mark for their leadership in the past three and a half years as Minister of Advanced Education, Skills, and Training. We look forward to seeing their accomplishments as the Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sports.

More locally, we would like to extend our congratulations to MLA David Eby on their reappointment to Attorney General of British Columbia and their new appointment to Minister responsible for Housing. We look forward to continuing to work with MLA David Eby on multiple affordability and accessibility priorities.

UBC GSS and AMS are excited to continue to work with the provincial government in our collective effort towards creating a more accessible and affordable post-secondary education system for all British Columbians.

 


For Media Inquiries:

Eric Lowe
Communications & Marketing Manager

Ben Hill
Communications Director
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Graduate Student Societies of BC welcome much-needed investment in SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships

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Graduate Student Societies of British Columbia, representing over 18,000 graduate students from across the province, welcome the announcement of a $26 million investment in SSHRC Doctoral Fellowships by the federal government of Canada.

This funding will support 540 doctoral student researchers in areas of critical social importance, such as the effects of climate change; the development of sustainable food systems; Indigenous languages; law and environmental revitalization; the impacts of chronic and recreational cannabis use; and psychological resilience from past traumas.

PDF copy of the story

“Graduate research funding in Canada has been stagnant for far too long. Graduate students are the backbone of Canada’s research and innovation sector and its future. We are very pleased to see this much-needed investment in SSRH Doctoral Fellowships” said Alireza Kamyabi, Vice-President External Relations at UBC Graduate Student Society. “Now more than ever, we are seeing the importance of understanding how our society and social institutions function. Our graduate student researchers in social sciences and humanities are driving those projects, and we’re glad to see them be supported.”

 

GSSBC acknowledge that more action is needed to revamp Canada’s research sector and will continue to work with allies across the Canada to advocate for necessary investments in social sciences and humanities research funding.

 

“We are so appreciative that the government is recognizing the important work that needs to be done in order to further understand and rectify these large-scale issues. Funding is a necessity for graduate students to continue such important work and allows them to increase their focus on research instead of worrying about how to make ends meet. We know that graduate students will rise to the challenge that large-scale issues pose and we are grateful for the governments support”

Abby Dooks, Director of External Relations, University of Northern British Columbia GSS[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Study Room, Thea Koerner House, UBC

GSS Loft, Rm. 4202 of AMS Student Nest, UBC

Leon’s Lounge, Thea Koerner House, UBC

Thea’s Lounge, Thea Koerner House, UBC

Penthouse, Thea Koerner House, UBC