University of British Columbia

Coordinates: 49°15′40″N 123°15′11″W / 49.26111°N 123.25306°W / 49.26111; -123.25306{{#coordinates:49|15|40|N|123|15|11|W| |primary |name= }}

University of British Columbia
University of British Columbia seal
Former names
McGill University College of British Columbia (1906–1915)
Motto Latin: Tuum Est
Motto in English
It is Yours
It is up to you
Established 1908
Type Public
Endowment CAD$1.3 billion[1]
Budget CAD$2.1 billion [2]
Chancellor Lindsay Gordon
President Arvind Gupta
Provost Angela Radish (Vancouver) and Cynthia Mathieson (Okanagan)
Academic staff
4,659 (Vancouver)
471 (Okanagan)[3]
Administrative staff
9,459 (Vancouver)
582 (Okanagan)[4]
Students 58,945
Undergraduates 39,254 (Vancouver)
7,748 (Okanagan) [5]
Postgraduates 9,912 (Vancouver)
682 (Okanagan) [5]
Location Vancouver and Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Campus Vancouver: Script error: No such module "convert"., Okanagan: Script error: No such module "convert".
School Song 'Hail, U.B.C'.; 'High on Olympus'[6]
Colours           Blue and Gold[7]
Nickname Template:If empty
Mascot Thunderbird
Affiliations APRU, ASAIHL, AUCC, U15, Universitas 21.

The University of British Columbia, commonly referred to as UBC, is a public Canadian research university based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Founded in 1908 as the McGill University College of British Columbia, the University became independent and adopted its current name in 1915. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in British Columbia and enrolls over 58,000 students at its Vancouver and Okanagan Valley campuses.[8] UBC's Script error: No such module "convert". Vancouver campus is located within the University Endowment Lands, about Script error: No such module "convert". west of Downtown Vancouver.[9] The Script error: No such module "convert". Kelowna campus, acquired in 2005, is located in the Okanagan Valley.

The University offers degrees and diplomas in over 300 fields of study, and in 2014 granted 12,421 degrees.[10] Most students are enrolled in five larger Faculties, namely Arts, Science, Medicine, Engineering and the Sauder School of Business.[11] Tuition fees vary significantly between in-province, out-of-province, and international students, and as of the 2014-2015 school year UBC and its donors provided $35 million in scholarships annually.[12] Estimated at $21,790 per student, the University maintains one of the largest endowments among Canadian universities on a per-student basis. With a research budget valued at $564 million, UBC funds 8,442 projects as of 2014.[10]

According to Maclean's UBC has the second highest entering grade among Canadian universities.[13] UBC faculty, alumni, and researchers have won seven Nobel Prizes, 69 Rhodes Scholarships, 65 Olympic medals, 195 fellowships to the Royal Society of Canada, and alumni include two Canadian prime ministers. The University is ranked 30th in the world in U.S. News & World Report 's 2015 rankings,[14] 32nd in the world in the 2014-2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings,[15] 43rd in the world in the 2014 QS World University Rankings[16] and eighth among universities outside the United States by Newsweek.[17][9][10][18][19]

UBC is a non-sectarian and coeducational institution, with more than 300,000 living alumni in 120 countries.[8] The University is a member of Universitas 21, the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning, the International Association of Universities, the U15 and the only Canadian member of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities. The University's varsity teams, known as the Thunderbirds in Vancouver and the Heat in the Okanagan, compete in the Canada West Universities Athletic Association of the Canadian Interuniversity Sport.


Foundation and early years

File:UBC Fairview campus (c. 1917).gif
View of the UBC Fairview campus from the roof of King Edward High School (c. 1917) (Vancouver, British Columbia) (photo by Canadian Photo Co.)
File:Sharp and Thompson proposed plan for the UBC Point Grey campus.jpg
Original 1914 plan of the UBC campus, by architects Sharp and Thompson

In 1877, only six years after British Columbia joined Canada, Superintendent of Education John Jessop submitted a proposal for the formation of a provincial university. An Act Respecting the University of British Columbia was passed by the provincial legislature in 1890, but disagreements arose over whether to build the university on Vancouver Island or the mainland. A provincial university was formally called into being by the British Columbia University Act of 1908, although its location was not yet specified.[21] The governance was modelled on the provincial University of Toronto Act of 1906 which established a bicameral system of university government consisting of a senate (faculty), responsible for academic policy, and a board of governors (citizens) exercising exclusive control over financial policy and having formal authority in all other matters. The president, appointed by the board, was to provide a link between the two bodies and to perform institutional leadership.[21] The Act constituted a twenty-one member senate with Francis Carter-Cotton of Vancouver as Chancellor.[22]

Before the University Act, there had been several attempts at establishing a degree-granting university with assistance from the Universities of Toronto and McGill. Columbian College in New Westminster, through its affiliation with Victoria College of the University of Toronto, began to offer university-level credit at the turn-of-the-century, but it was McGill that would come to dominate higher education in the early 1900s.

Building on a successful affiliation between Vancouver and Victoria high schools with McGill University, Henry Marshall Tory[23] helped to establish the McGill University College of British Columbia. From 1906 to 1915 McGill BC (as it was called) operated as a private institution providing the first few years toward a degree at McGill University or elsewhere. The Henry Marshall Tory Medal was established in 1941 by Tory, founding President of the University of Alberta and of the National Research Council of Canada, and a co-founder of Carleton University.

In the meantime, appeals were again made to the government to revive the earlier legislation for a provincial institution, leading to the University Endowment Act in 1907, and The University Act in 1908. In 1910 the Point Grey site was chosen, and the government appointed Dr. Frank Fairchild Wesbrook as President in 1913, and Leonard Klinck as Dean of Agriculture in 1914. A declining economy and the outbreak of war in August 1914 compelled the University to postpone plans for building at Point Grey, and instead the former McGill University College site at Fairview became home to the University until 1925. The first day of lectures was September 30, 1915, the new independent university absorbing McGill University College. University of British Columbia awarded its first degrees in 1916,[21] and Klinck became the second President in 1919, serving until 1940.

Move to Point Grey

World War I dominated campus life, and the student body was "decimated" by enlistments for active service, with three hundred UBC students in Company "D" alone. By the end of the war, 697 members of the University had enlisted. A total of 109 students graduated in the three war-time congregations, all but one in the Faculty of Arts and Science.

By 1920, the university had only three faculties: Arts, Applied Science, and Agriculture (with Departments of Agronomy, Animal Husbandry, Dairying, Horticulture and Poultry). It only awarded the degrees of Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc), and Bachelor of Science in Agriculture (BSA).[24] There were 576 male students and 386 female students in the 1920–21 winter session, but only 64 academic staff, including 6 women.[25]

In the early part of the 20th century, professional education expanded beyond the traditional fields of theology, law and medicine. UBC provided no degrees in these areas, but was beginning to offer degrees in new professional areas such as engineering, agriculture, nursing, and school teaching. Graduate training based on the German-inspired American model of specialized course work and the completion of a research thesis was introduced, with students completing M.A. degrees in natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities.[21]

File:UBC Great Trek at Granville and Georgia streets.gif
Students march down Granville street during the Great Trek

In 1922, the now twelve-hundred-strong student body embarked on a "Build the University" campaign. Students marched in the streets of Vancouver to draw attention to their plight, enlist popular support, and embarrass the government. Fifty-six thousand signatures were presented at legislature in support of the campaign, which was ultimately successful. On September 22, 1925, lectures began on the new Point Grey campus. Except for the Library, Science and Power House buildings, all the campus buildings were temporary constructions. Two playing fields were built by the students themselves, but the University had no dormitories and no social centre. Still, the University continued to grow steadily.

Soon, however, the effects of the depression began to be felt. The provincial government, upon which the University depended heavily, cut the annual grant severely. In 1932–33 salaries were cut by up to 23%. Posts remained vacant, and a few faculty lost their jobs. Most graduate courses were dropped. In 1935, the University established the Department of Extension. Just as things began to improve, World War II broke out. Canada declared war on September 10, 1939. Soon afterwards, University President Klinck wrote:

From the day of the declaration of war, the University has been prepared to put at the disposal of the Government all possible assistance by way of laboratories, equipment and trained personnel, insofar as such action is consistent with the maintenance of reasonably efficient instructional standards. To do less would be unthinkable.

Heavy rains and melting snowfall eroded a deep ravine across the north end of the campus, in the Grand Campus Washout of 1935. The campus did not yet have storm drains, and surface runoff went down a ravine to the beach. When the University carved a ditch to drain flooding on University Avenue, the rush of water steepened the ravine and eroded it back as fast as Script error: No such module "convert". per hour. The resulting gully eventually consumed Script error: No such module "convert"., two bridges, and buildings near Graham House. The University was closed for 4½ days. Afterwards, the gully was filled with debris from a nearby landslide, and only traces are visible today.[26]

Military training on the campus became popular, then mandatory. WWII marked the first provision of money from the federal government to the University for research purposes.

Postwar Years

By the end of the war, it became clear that the facilities at Point Grey had become totally inadequate to cater to the huge influx of veterans returning to their studies. The University needed new staff, new courses, new faculties, and new buildings for teaching and accommodation. The student population rose from 2,974 in 1944–45 to 9,374 in 1947–48. Surplus Army and Air Force camps were used for both classrooms and accommodation. Fifteen complete camps were taken over by the University in the course of the 1945–46 session alone, with a sixteenth camp situated on Little Mountain in Vancouver, converted into suites for married students. Most of the camps were dismantled and carried by barge or truck to the University where the huts were scattered across the campus.

Student numbers hit 9,374 in 1948; more than 53% of the students were war veterans in 1947–67. Between 1947 and 1951 twenty new permanent buildings were erected, including the War Memorial Gym, built with money raised primarily by the students.The War Memorial Gymnasium was officially dedicated on October 26, 1951.[27]

The single-university policy in the West was changed as existing colleges of the provincial universities gained autonomy as universities – the University of Victoria was established in 1963.[21]

On February 10, 1964 Harvey Reginald MacMillan donated $8.2 million for postgraduate education to the university.[28]

Recent history

The Museum of Anthropology at UBC was announced on July 1, 1971 by Prime Minister Trudeau. At a construction cost of $2.5 million, the museum building designed by Arthur Erickson opened in 1976.[28]

UBC's current president is Dr. Arvind Gupta, appointed on July 1, 2014. He succeeded Dr. Stephen Toope, who held the post for 8 years beginning July 1, 2006. The Chancellor of the University, who acts as the University's ceremonial head and sits on the academic Senate and the Board of Governors, is Lindsay Gordon (as of April 14, 2014).[29] The UBC Okanagan campus is led by Dr. Deborah Buszard, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Principal. All three founding faculties remain, but the Faculty of Agriculture is now known as the Faculty of Land & Food Systems.[30]


File:UBC aerial view.jpg
Aerial view of the Vancouver Campus
File:Irving K. Barber Library.jpg
The Irving K. Barber Library and Ladner Clock Tower


The Vancouver campus is located at Point Grey, a twenty-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. It is near several beaches and has views of the North Shore mountains. The 7.63 km² Pacific Spirit Regional Park serves as a green-belt between the campus and the city. Buildings on the Vancouver campus currently occupy 1,091,997 m² gross, located on 1.7 km² of maintained land. The campus street plan is mostly in a grid of malls (for driving and pedestrian-only). Lower Mall and West Mall are in the southwestern part of the peninsula, with Main, East, and Wesbrook Malls northeast of them.

The University Endowment Lands are not within Vancouver's city limits, and therefore UBC is policed by the RCMP rather than the Vancouver Police Department. However, the Vancouver Fire Department provides service to UBC under a contract. In addition to UBC RCMP, UBC have Campus Security, that patrol the campus. Postage sent to any building on campus includes Vancouver in the address. UBC Vancouver also has two satellite campuses within the City of Vancouver: a campus at Vancouver General Hospital for the medical sciences, and UBC Robson Square in downtown Vancouver for part-time credit and non-credit programmes. UBC is also a partner in the consortium backing Great Northern Way Campus Ltd, and is affiliated with a group of adjacent theological colleges, which include the Vancouver School of Theology, Regent College, Carey Theological College and Corpus Christi College.

The campus is home to numerous gardens. The UBC Botanical Garden and Centre for Plant Research, the first UBC department, holds a collection of over 8000 different kinds of plants used for research, conservation and education. The original site of the UBC botanical garden was at the "Old Arboretum". Today all that remains of it are trees planted in 1916 by John Davidson. The old arboretum is now home to many buildings including the First Nations House of Learning. The Nitobe Memorial Garden, built to honour Japanese scholar Inazo Nitobe, the garden has been the subject of more than fifteen years' study by a UBC professor,[who?] who believes that its construction hides a number of impressive features, including references to Japanese philosophy and mythology, shadow bridges visible only at certain times of year, and positioning of a lantern that is filled with light at the exact date and time of Nitobe's death each year. The garden is behind the university's Asian Centre, which is built using steel girders from Japan's exhibit at Osaka Expo.[31]

File:Vancouver school of theology (UBC-2009).JPG
The UBC Vancouver School of Theology, recently acquired by the Vancouver School of Economics, built in 1927

The campus also features the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts: a performing arts centre containing the Chan Shun Concert Hall, Telus Studio Theatre and the Royal Bank Cinema. It is often the location of convocation ceremonies as well as the filming location for the 4400 Center on the television show The 4400,[32] as well as the Madacorp entrance set on Kyle XY.[33] It has also been featured as the Cloud 9 Ballroom in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (Season 1, Episode 11: Colonial Day).[34]


The Okanagan Campus, is located on the former North Kelowna Campus of Okanagan University College, next to Kelowna International Airport on the north-east side of Kelowna, British Columbia.[35] This campus offers undergraduate degrees in Arts, Science, Nursing, Education, Management and Engineering as well as graduate degrees in most of these subjects. The Okanagan campus is experiencing a $450 million CDN expansion with construction of several new residential, teaching and research buildings.

In 2010, UBC Okanagan campus doubled in size from 105 ha. to 208.6 ha.[36]

Libraries, archives and galleries

The UBC Library, which comprises 5.8 million books and journals, 5.3 million microforms, over 833,000 maps, videos and other multimedia materials and over 46,700 subscriptions, is the second largest research librarary in Canada.[37] The libraries lent out over 2.5 million print works in 2008/2009 with over 2.9 million visits to the library (measured by gate counters).[38] The library has twenty-one branches and divisions at UBC and at other locations, including three branches at teaching hospitals (St. Paul's Hospital, Vancouver Hospital and Health Sciences Centre, BC Children's Hospital), one at UBC's Robson Square campus in downtown Vancouver, and one at the UBC's Okanagan Campus.[37] Plans are also under way to establish a library at the Great Northern Way Campus on the Finning Lands.

The former Main Library has undergone construction and has been renamed the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre. The new library incorporates the centre heritage block of the old Main Library with two new expansion wings and features an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS), the first of its kind in Canada.[39]

UBC has has a number of different collections that have been donated and acquired. Major General Victor Odlum CB, CMG, DSO, VD donated his personal library of 10,000 books, which has been housed in "the Rockwoods Centre Library" of the UBC library since 1963. After the closure of Videomatica in 2011 UBC and SFU acquired their $1.7-million collection. UBC received about 28,000 movie DVDs, 4,000 VHS titles and 900 Blu-rays which are now housed at UBC Library’s Koerner branch, on UBC’s Vancouver campus.[40] The AHVA Library Gallery presents Contemporary, Fine Art exhibitions and Artists talks and showcases the work of student and faculty artists in Studio Art, Art History and Curatorial Studies programs of the UBC Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.[41] The Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the UBC houses the university's collection of three archives and fine art; 1,000 works, mainly Canadian contemporary pieces 1960 to the present. The Gallery houses exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, archival projects, lectures and symposia on art history, criticism, and curating.[42]

Governance and academics

File:Koerner Library UBC.jpg
The Walter C. Koerner Library, designed by UBC alumnus Arthur Erickson

The administration of UBC, as mandated by the University Act, is composed of a chancellor, convocation, board, senate, and faculties of the university.[43] The Board of Governors is responsible for the management of property and revenue, while the Senate is vested with managing the academic operation of the university. Both are composed of faculty and students who are elected to the position. Degrees and diplomas are conferred by the convocation, which is composed of alumni, administrators, and faculty, with a quorum of twenty members. UBC also has a President, who is a chief executive officer of the university and a member of the Senate, Board of Governors, Convocation, and also serves as Vice Chancellor. The President of the University is responsible for managing the academic operation of the university, including recommending appointments, calling meetings of faculties, and establishing committees.

Faculties and schools

File:UBC Law at Allard Hall.JPG
Aerial view of the UBC Faculty of Law building

UBC's academic activity is organized into "faculties" and "schools".[44] Currently, UBC has twelve faculties at its Vancouver campus and seven faculties at its Okanagan campus.[9] UBC Vancouver has two academic colleges: Interdisciplinary Studies and Health Disciplines, while UBC Okanagan has a College of Graduate Studies. At the Vancouver campus, the Faculty of Arts, which dates back to the 1915 Fairview Campus, is the largest faculty with twenty departments and schools. With the split of the Faculty of Arts and Science in 1964, the Faculty of Science is the second largest faculty with nine departments. The Sauder School of Business is UBC's Faculty of Commerce and Business Administration. The School of Architecture offers a program in architecture accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board at both the bachelor level (B.Arch.) and the master's level (M.Arch.).[45] As of December 2012, a new school was created: UBC Vancouver School of Economics in conjunction with the Sauder School of Business.[46][47][48] In 2014, UBC also created a new designation titled "International Programs" which is separate from the traditional definition of a Faculty. To accompany this designation, Vantage College was formed to allow International students who do not meet the English language requirements for general admission to enter a transition program with the university[49]


In 2014/15, UBC employed 3,270 full-time Faculty members, 10,942 non-faculty members, and 8,031 students. It reported 871 unpaid employees. It had over fifty-one thousand students (41,365 undergraduate students and 10,076 graduate students).[50] The requirements for admission differ between students from British Columbia, other provinces in Canada, and international students due to the lack of uniformity in marking schemes. In 2003 the National Post stated that the university had the highest entrance requirements for undergraduate admission out of all universities in Canada.[51] The mean admission average in 2013 for first-year students was 89.5 percent.[52] The acceptance rate for domestic applications in 2013 was 50.4 percent, of which 57.1 percent enrolled.[53]

Rankings and reputation

University rankings
Global rankings
The University of British Columbia
ARWU World[54] 37
QS World[55] 43
THE-WUR World[56] 32
USNWR_GU Global Universities[57] 30
Canadian rankings
ARWU National[58] 2
Maclean's Medical/Doctoral[59] 3
THE-WUR National[56] 2

As of the 2014-2015 school year, UBC was ranked 3rd in Canada among all its major/research universities in the Maclean's 24th annual rankings after ranking 2nd for two consecutive years.[60] In the 2014-2015 U.S. News and World Report ranking of world universities UBC placed second in Canada, 24th in North America and 30th overall.[14] In the 2014-2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings UBC was ranked second in Canada, 24th in North America and 32nd overall.[61] Furthermore, UBC was ranked 3rd in Canada, 21st in North America and 43rd among world universities in the 2014-2015 QS World University Rankings[62] The 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked the university second in Canada, 29th in North America and 37th overall.[58] Also, the 2014 CWUR ranking ranked UBC 3rd in Canada, 41st among North American colleges and universities and 61st worldwide.[63] In Newsweek's 2011 global university rankings, the university was ranked eighth among institutions outside the United States, and second in Canada.[64] As of September 2013, according to the University Ranking by Academic Performance (URAP),[65] UBC was ranked second in Canada, 16th in North America and 21st in the world.

UBC's various academic programs have been consistently ranked among the most competitive in their respective fields in domestic and international rankings. The 2014-2015 Times Higher Education World University Rankings ranked UBC 21st (2nd in Canada) in social sciences, 20th (1st in Canada) in life sciences, 43rd (2nd in Canada) in engineering and technology and 35th (2nd in Canada) in physical sciences.[66] The 2013 QS rankings of world universities placed UBC 29th in economics, 10th in geography, 43rd in political science, 35th in computer science, 19th in earth and marine sciences, 35th in medicine and 32nd in accounting and finance.[67] The 2014 Academic Ranking of World Universities ranked UBC 38th in economics and business, 41st in computer science, 28th in social sciences and 51-75 overall in science.[68] The university's law faculty was ranked fifth in Maclean's 2012 rankings of Canadian common law schools, and 22nd in the world and third in Canada in the 2012 QS World University Rankings by Subject: Law.[69][70] The Sauder School of Business has also received accolades both nationally and internationally. The business school appeared on the 2013 Financial Times global MBA rankings, placing 57th in the world,[71] and fourth in Canada. The business school was also ranked in QS's 2012 North American MBA rankings, placing 18th in North America, and third in Canada.[72]


The University of British Columbia is a member of Universitas 21, an international association of research-led institutions, as well as the only Canadian member of the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, a consortium of 42 leading research universities in the Pacific Rim.[102][103] With a sponsored research income of $575.155 million, the university manages the second-largest research budget of any university in Canada. With an average research income of $245,200 CAD per full-time faculty member, the university is also the second most research intensive full-service university in the country.[104] In terms of research performance, High Impact Universities 2010 ranked the university 30th out of 500 universities, and second in Canada.[105] The Higher Education Evaluation and Accreditation Council of Taiwan (HEEACT), an organization which also evaluates universities based on their scientific paper's performances, ranked the university 29th in the world and second in Canada.[106]

The university operates and manages a number of research centres. In 1972, a consortium made up of the University of British Columbia, and four other universities from Alberta and British Columbia established the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre. Located on Vancouver Island, the centre provides year-round research facilities and technical assistance for biologists, ecologists and oceanographers.[107] The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies is an interdisciplinary research institute for fundamental research in the Sciences, Social Sciences, and Humanities. The UBC Farm is a 24 hectare learning and research farm located in UBC's South Campus area is the only working farmland within the city of Vancouver. The farm features Saturday Farm Markets from early June until early October, selling organic produce and eggs to the community. TRIUMF, a laboratory specializing in particle and nuclear physics is also located at the university. The name was formerly an acronym for TRI-University Meson Facility, but TRIUMF is now owned and operated by a consortium of eleven Canadian universities. The consortium runs TRIUMF through a contribution of funds from the National Research Council of Canada, and makes TRIUMF’s facilities available to Canadian scientists and to scientists from around the world.[108]


UBC has been ranked in the Corporate Knights school rankings, which ranks universities based on how they integrate sustainability into the learning experience. The rankings adopt a broad definition of sustainability which encompasses both environmental and social concerns. In the 2011 rankings, UBC was ranked 2nd in the category: top 5 teaching programs.[109] In the ranking of the Canadian law schools, UBC's law school ranked fifth.[109] In the ranking of the MBA programs, Sauder School of Business was ranked fourth in Canada. The same rankings placed the business school 11th in Canada for its undergraduate business program.[109]

The University strives to be a world leader in sustainability and sustainable development, aiming to meet the needs of the growing student and faculty population while preserving the environment. The Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS) building is a recent addition to the Vancouver campus and it exemplifies the University’s sustainable practices. Developed to create the most sustainable society at UBC, the building has been called the most sustainable, innovative, and high performance building in North America.[110] The CIRS building was first thought of in 2000[111] and was the brainchild of Doctor John Robinson, a sustainable development research initiative professor. Robinson worked with faculty members from Emily Carr, Simon Fraser University, and British Columbia Institute of Technology as well as head architect Peter Busby to design the building.[112] It cost a total of twenty-three million dollars to complete the 65000 square – foot building.[113] The CIRS building exhibits regenerative sustainability, meaning that the building improves the environment around it.[114] For example, it uses the neighbouring Earth and Ocean Sciences (EOSC) Building in order to heat itself. The EOSC building uses roughly 1600 megawatts of heat energy and goes through ten air changes every hour, wasting around 900 megawatts of that energy.[111] The engineers who built the CIRS building saw this as an opportunity; they take the heat that has been expelled from the EOSC building, use 300 megawatts to heat the CIRS building, and send back 600 megawatts to the EOSC building so that it can heat itself. In this way, the CIRS building is restoring its surrounding environment. The CIRS building is designed to be net positive in four ways environmentally, meaning that the processes or products that leave the building are more environmentally friendly than those that go into it.[110] The best example of the net positivity of the building is the wood it is made of; the wood the building is made of holds within is nearly 600 tons of carbon, this is more carbon than that which has been by the construction of the building, as well as the manufacturing that goes on inside the building today.[115] Other sustainable features of the CIRS building include:

  • Relies completely on rainwater to supply the whole building
  • An on-site sewage treatment facility that converts all waste created in the building to reusable water and compost
  • The wood used to build the building comes from trees killed by the pine beetle, thus, little logging was needed for construction
  • Relies on mainly solar energy for electricity
  • All areas of the building use natural lighting during the day.[110]

The building integrates ‘green,’ sustainable and humane features, i.e. not only does it have a small ecological footprint, it also serves as an environment for occupants to be happy, healthy, and productive within.[112] This is the direction that the University of British Columbia is moving towards in order to continue their ideas of sustainable development.


UBC’s Longhouse is the University's centre for Aboriginal activities. The university has an Associate Dean of Indigenous Education, and has developed governing board and senate policies as well as Aboriginal governed councils within the university structure.[116] UBC offers degrees in First Nations Studies through a program in the Arts Faculty, and a Chinook Diploma Program in the Sauder School of Business; it also runs the Chinook Summer Biz Camp, to foster entrepreneurship among First Nations and Métis high school students. It hosts a Bridge Through Sport Program, Summer Science Program, Native Youth Program, and Cedar Day Camp and Afterschool Program. Its First Nations Forestry Initiatives were developed in partnership with specific Aboriginal communities to meet needs in their more remote areas.


In 2012-13, UBC's total budget exceeded $2 billion, and the University posted balanced financial results for the fourth consecutive year through strategic revenue diversification, careful management of assets, and a continued focus on fundraising for projects across the university. The share of the University budget coming from the Government grant has been reduced to 45% of total revenues. On the other hand, annual fundraising has nearly doubled in 5 years to reach $213 million.


Tuition fees vary significantly between Canadian citizens (and permanent residents) and international students. In addition, for both undergraduate and graduate programs, tuition rates vary between the university's different faculties. Students must also pay for various living expenses such as housing, food and student healthcare. As of the 2012–2013 school year, these expenses were estimated at around $13,000 CAD per academic year.[117][118][119]

Undergraduate tuition

UBC tuition for 2012 was $4,700 before adding other mandatory administrative fees for a Canadian student in a basic 30-unit program, though various programs cost from $3,406 to $9,640. Tuition for international students is significantly higher (2.3–4.6 times higher than domestic students). In 2012, tuition for international students ranged from $16,245 CAD to $25,721 CAD.[120]

In 2001–02, UBC had one of the lowest undergraduate tuition rates in Canada, at an average of $2,181 CAD per year for a full-time programme. This was due to a government-instituted tuition freeze. In 2001, however, the BC Liberal party defeated the NDP in British Columbia and lifted the tuition freeze. In 2002–03 undergraduate and graduate tuition rose by an average of 30%, and by up to 40% in some faculties. This has led to better facilities, but also to student unrest and contributed to a teaching assistant union strike.

UBC again increased tuition by 30% in the 2003–04 year, again by approximately 15% in the 2004–05 season, and 2% in the 2005–06 and 2006–07 years. Increases were lower than expected because, in the 2005 Speech from the Throne, the government announced that tuition increases would be capped to inflation.[121] In 2006–07, the Canadian average undergraduate tuition fee was $4,347 and the BC average was $4,960.[122] In 2014, the Board of Governor passed a one-time 10% tuition increase for all new incoming International students for all programs. [123]

Graduate tuition

In the academic year 2011/2012 most research-based graduate programs assess tuition of $4,263.87 per semester for Canadian students and permanent residents or $7,490.88 for international students.[124][125] International students without any external funding that meet the general eligibility criteria will be supported with guaranteed funding of up to $3,200 per year.[126] Tuition for professional Master's programs varies.

Student life

Student representation

UBC undergraduate students within the Vancouver campus are represented by the Alma Mater Society of the University of British Columbia, or AMS. The society's mandate is to improve the quality of educational, social, and personal lives of UBC students. The AMS lobbies the UBC administration on behalf of the student body, provides services, such as the AMS/GSS Health and Dental Plan, supports and administers student clubs, and maintains the Student Union Building (aka SUB) and the services it houses. In 2013 the AMS began construction on a new $103 million Student Union Building. A Constituency (undergraduate society) exists within each schools and faculties of the university and act as the subsidiary of the AMS within those schools and faculties.

Graduate Students are represented by the Graduate Student Society (GSS) which operates as an independent entity. The GSS is governed by a council representing each graduate program and an executive elected by graduate students as a whole.[127]

The university also allows for elected student representatives to sit as voting members in the Board of Governor (3 student representatives) and the Academic Senate. Although the university is the official body that elects the students, the university delegates the task of running these representative elections to the AMS.

Student facilities

File:UBC SUB.jpg
The Student Union Building on the left, and the War Memorial Gym on the right

The heart of student activity at UBC Vancouver is the centrally located Student Union Building (SUB), which houses offices of many AMS student clubs, over a dozen restaurants and cafés, a pub ("The Gallery"), a nightclub ("The Pit"), the 425-seat Norman Bouchard Memorial Theatre ("The Norm Theatre"), several shops, and a post office. The majority of the outlets and shops in the SUB are run by the AMS; however, the addition of major corporate outlets in recent years by UBC Food Services has generated some controversy. The SUB Art Gallery contains mostly students' works. An underground bus loop slated to replace the "Grassy Knoll" beside the SUB did not receive funding by Translink.[128] As a result, the bus loop project has been cancelled by the administration, although the rest of the renovations of the University Boulevard Neighbourhood are still under consideration.

Other student facilities on campus include the Ladha Science Student Centre (which was funded through a donation from Abdul Ladha, a levy on Science undergraduate students, the VP Students, and the Dean of Science) and the Meekison Arts Student Space, which is located in the Faculty of Art's Buchanan D building. The UBC Bookstore has two locations on the Vancouver campus: the main store at 6200 University Boulevard, and store at Sauder School of Business. There are also stores at the Okanagan and Robson Square Campuses. The Bookstore provides a range of products and services. It returns a dividend back to UBC each year, which is re-invested in the campus or in student and community organizations.[129]

Greek organizations

While UBC's Greek system is somewhat smaller than its counterparts in the United States, it does offer the largest and most active Greek system in Canada. There is a total of 18 Greek organizations. An InterFraternal Council (IFC) is recognized as a club by the Alma Mater Society and meetings of the fraternities under IFC occur at their respective fraternity houses each week. Greek life has its own division within UBC REC[130] and intense competition between the 9 Fraternities for the title of top Athletic Fraternity occur.

There are ten international fraternities on campus, the first of which, Alpha Delta Phi, was established in 1926. However Alpha Delta Phi was preceded by several local fraternities on campus. Other fraternities include Alpha Epsilon Pi, Delta Kappa Epsilon, Psi Upsilon, Sigma Chi,[131] Beta Theta Pi,[132] Phi Delta Theta, Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Sigma, and Zeta Psi which re-chartered at UBC in 2013.

The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) member organizations (sororities) on campus are overseen by the Panhellenic Council.[133] All sororities have a chapter room in the Panhellenic House on Wesbrook Mall; the building also offers housing for 72 college women, with preference given to sorority members.

The eight sororities on the Vancouver campus include Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma. The current Panhellenic total is 81. Chapter meetings are held in the chapter's respective rooms each week or in classrooms and Greek-wide or campus-wide events are attended by members of all the sororities and fraternities. Formal recruitment for the sororities begin during the second week of September and is a 4-day process consisting of: Tours (first 2 days), Invitationals and Preference.

Phrateres has traditionally been affiliated with the Greek system since its installation at UBC in 1935. Historical records indicate that for many years, members identified themselves, and were recognized as Greek. Members interacted with fraternities on a similar basis as the sororities, and participated in many Greek events, such as Songfest and exchanges. However, they presently operate as a self-governing organization under the Alma Mater Society with the closure of their international headquarters in 2001.

Both campuses also have chapters of Sigma Phi Delta ("Sigma Phi Delta - Active Chapters". Retrieved 24 April 2015. ) and Alpha Omega Epsilon ("Alpha Omega Epsilon Chapters & Colonies". Retrieved 24 April 2015. ), a professional engineering fraternity and sorority respectively. None of the four chapters are affiliated with the other Greek organizations on campus.

Moreover, UBC was ranked among Canada's top party schools by the website Ask Men. In the latest ranking, UBC was ranked 7th, ahead of Queen's University and below Concordia University.[134]


File:Dene Totem Park.JPG
Dene House at Totem Park

The UBC Point Grey campus has an on-campus student resident population of about 10,041 people.[135] On-campus student residents on UBC Lands live in an unincorporated area, outside the City of Vancouver, known as Electoral Area A. It is located within, and partly administered by, Metro Vancouver.[136] Neighbouring the University Endowment Lands, on-campus residential services are provided by the Province of BC and by UBC. Emergency Planning is administered by Metro Vancouver. Because UBC is not in a municipality, there is no mayor, council, or other democratic municipal representation for on-campus residents, although residents can vote for the Director of Electoral Area A.[137] Residents at UBC are not protected under British Columbia's Residential Tenancy Act because university accommodations for students and/or employees are exempt.[138] UBC has forecast the need for 6,400 new on-campus beds between 2008 and 2028 "to maintain the current availability of student housing choices in the face of on-going pressures in the Vancouver rental market".[139] From 2009 to 2014, UBC added 1,471 beds for student residents.[140][141] In 2015, UBC plans to increase the cost of on-campus student housing by 20%, with the exception of year-round residences.[142]

As of the 2012–2013 school year, there are two dormitory style residences on campus, primarily for first and second-year students: Totem Park and Place Vanier.[143] Totem Park, housing about 1757 students, consists of eight dormitory buildings (Nootka, Dene, Haida, Salish, Kwakiutl, Shuswap, Həm'ləsəm' and Q'ələχən Houses), and a Commons Block (Coquihalla). All houses, except Shuswap, are co-ed, with alternating men's and women's floors; Shuswap house has co-ed floors. Both Həm'ləsəm' and Q'ələχən houses were opened to residents of Totem Park in September 2011 and consist of single rooms with semi-private or private washrooms in contrast to the other house's communal floor washrooms.[144]

Place Vanier, housing 1370 people, consists of 12 blocks constructed in 1959 (Robson House), 1960 (Okanagan, Sherwood Lett, Mackenzie, Ross, Hamber and Mawdsley Houses), 1961 (Kootenay House), 1968 (Cariboo and Tweedsmuir Houses), 2002 (Korea-UBC House) and 2003 (Tec de Monterrey-UBC House). The buildings vary from Male and Female only, to alternating gender floors, as well as fully mixed floors. The residences have both single and double rooms, with each floor having a lounge and communal bathrooms.

Students nineteen and above have suite-style residence options on the Point Grey campus. The Gage Towers consist of three 17-floor towers (North, South and East) primarily for second, third, and fourth-year undergraduate students. It consists of three interconnected towers (North, South, and East) as well as single student housing (both studio, and apartment) in a building. The towers are composed of "quads": four separate pods, each consisting of six individual bedrooms, a bathroom and a kitchen-dining area.[145]

Acadia Park and University Apartments are for student families and couples (where one is a UBC student) and are administered on a year-round basis.[146]

Adjacent to the Acadia Park residence area on the east part of campus is Fairview Crescent, a residence primarily for second- and third-year undergraduate students, and many graduate students as well. The residence consists of an L-shaped pedestrian-only street lined with 4, 5 and six-student (a mix of single-sex and co-ed) townhouses. The Beanery coffee shop is in the middle of the residence.

The Thunderbird residences are primarily for graduate students and fourth-year undergraduate students; they are located at the southern edge of the academic core campus. The Ritsumeikan-UBC House is a residence with a Japanese cultural setting, named for Ritsumeikan University. It houses Japanese exchange students and Canadian students, who participate in unique inter-cultural programmes. The residence's tatami room is used for practice sessions by the UBC Urasenke Japanese tea ceremony club. Two Canadian students are typically paired with two Japanese exchange students.

Marine Drive Residence is situated on the west side of campus slightly south of Place Vanier. The first phase, consisting of Building 1 (an 18-floor tower) and Building 2 (a five-floor building commonly called the "Podium") opened fall 2005, and is the most expensive residence on campus. In February 2006, the Board of Governors approved plans for the second phase of Marine Drive, finally putting an end to the debacle caused by concerns over the view of Wreck beach (Phase I's Building 1 was reduced from 20 floors to 18 because of this). Additionally building 1 contains the Simon K.Y. Lee Global Lounge and Resource Centre. Phase II consists of Buildings 4 through 6 (two towers and another "Podium", respectively), and also the Commonsblock. Buildings 4 through 6 were all open to students as of September 2008. A separate Commonsblock was completed in summer 2009, and contains similar services to the Commonsblock of other residences, such as exercise, game, and study rooms. Construction at Marine Drive was completed in February 2010, with the opening of a restaurant called The Point Grill located in building 4.

The newest addition to UBC Vancouver's student housing is the Ponderosa Commons Residence.

The university has two colleges dedicated to accommodation for graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and visiting scholars: St. John's College[147] and Green College.[148]


File:Olympic Hockey at UBC.jpg
UBC's Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre during the 2010 Winter Olympics

The University of British Columbia's sports teams are called the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds participate in the CIS's Canada West Universities Athletic Association for most varsity sports. However, several varsity teams at UBC compete in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. UBC is considering joining the NCAA Division II.[149][150] With a long history of competing in sports, the Thunderbirds have garnered a number of championships. In particular, the women swimmers who had represented UBC had brought back 22 conference championships and 16 national championships.[151]

The University of British Columbia has a number of athletic facilities open to both their varsity teams as well as to their students. The stadium with the largest seating capacity at UBC is the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. The Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre is home to the varsity ice hockey teams and was also used as a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics.[152] Other facilities at UBC includes Thunderbird Stadium, home to the university's football and soccer varsity teams, UBC Aquatic Centre, home to the university's swimming teams, the War Memorial Gymnasium, home to the university's basketball and volleyball varsity teams and Thunderbird Park, home to the university's many other outdoor varsity teams.[153]

The university has also had a long history of sending a number of students to represent their countries at the Olympics. Since having its first athlete sent to the Olympics in 1928, a total of 231 individuals from UBC have represented their respective countries at the Olympics. The total number of individual medals athletes from UBC had won was 61, with 19 gold, 21 silver and 24 bronze. The majority of these medals won had come from the sport of rowing.[154]

Marching band

UBC's marching band, the Thunderbird Marching Band, was founded in September 2012 and is entirely student-run. The band performs at various Thunderbirds football, basketball, rugby, and hockey games, as well as other campus events. It is the only university-level marching band in Western Canada.[155]

Fight song

Notable among a number of songs commonly played and sung at various events such as commencement and convocation, and athletic games are: "Hail, U.B.C" with words and music by Harold King and "High on Olympus" with words by D.C. Morton and music by J.C.F. Haeffner.[156]

Campus events

File:Rosegarden ubc.jpg
UBC Rose Garden.

A small number of large-scale, campus-wide events occur annually at UBC which are organized by university institutions, the AMS, and student constituencies of various faculties and departments. Additionally, a number of unofficial traditions exist at UBC: jumping from the Aquatic Centre's 10-metre diving board late at night and repainting the Engineering cairn so as to advertise other clubs.

Several group athletic events take place at UBC every year. Storm the Wall is an intramural relay race put on by UBC REC in April, culminating in the climbing of a Script error: No such module "convert". wall. Day of the Longboat is an intramural event put on at the end of September/early October by UBC REC. It is a major voyageur canoe race with teams competing in a 2 km paddle around the waters of Jericho Sailing Centre. The program is operated by over 120 volunteer students and staff who are responsible for operating every aspect of this program. UBC REC's student administrators fill various roles including event planning, sport officiating, public relations and building supervision.

Faculty constituencies, such as the Arts Undergraduate Society (AUS) and Science Undergraduate Society (SUS), hold events annually. Many of the major constituencies, such as for Arts, Science, and Engineering, hold their own faculty weeks to celebrate their faculties. The events may include keynote speeches, merchandise sales, and dances. Arts County Fair was an annual concert and party on the last day of classes in April, put on by the AUS and occurring at Thunderbird Stadium. Past headliners have included Sam Roberts, The New Pornographers, and Metric. Due to increasing financial difficulties (mostly resulting from mounting security and related costs) the AUS announced they would not continue the event in 2008. In its place, the Alma Mater Society of UBC hosted the AMS Block Party to celebrate the end of classes.

To celebrate the beginning of classes, UBC Orientations organizes several events for first-year students, such as Imagine UBC, GALA, and UBC Jump Start. Imagine UBC is an orientation day and pep rally for first-year undergraduate students that replaces the first day of class after Labour Day at UBC Vancouver.[157]

Rape chant controversy

During the 2013 Imagine day, a post on Twitter showed first year students in the Sauder School of Business singing a chant that bragged about rape. The chant, dating back to at least 1993, had already created controversy at Saint Mary's University days earlier.[158] The Commerce Undergraduate Society stated that it had been trying to scale back the cheer by using it in buses but not outside. Four CUS leaders resigned over the incident and 81 others were required to perform an unspecified amount of community service by the UBC President, Stephen Toope.[159]

Model United Nations

In March 2012, UBC was the partner Host University of the Harvard World Model United Nations Conference (WorldMUN 2012 Vancouver). As the world's largest student-organized Model UN conference, this was also the largest student conference to have ever been organized by UBC and the largest student conference on Canadian soil.[160][161] There were 2,200 student delegates and nearly 200 faculty advisors from 270 universities from over 60 countries. The organizing committee amassed over 500 student volunteers from across the UBC campus and the local student community to execute the week-long event.

Notable people

Kim Campbell, Canada's first female Prime Minister—a UBC graduate
Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize-winning Canadian economist—a UBC graduate

Throughout UBC's history, faculty, alumni, and former students have played prominent roles in many different fields. Many UBC alumni and faculty have gone on to win awards including seven Nobel Prizes and 67 Rhodes Scholarships.[9][162]

Former alumni have won Nobel Prizes: Robert Mundell (Economic Sciences) who graduated from the UBC Department of Economics and Bertram Brockhouse (Physics).[163][164] Five former faculty members of the UBC have also received a Nobel Prize: Michael Smith (Chemistry), Har Gobind Khorana (Physiology or Medicine), Daniel Kahneman (Economics), Hans G. Dehmelt (Physics), and Carl Wieman (Physics).[165][166][167][168]

File:INC 2009 Justin Trudeau.jpg
Justin Trudeau, BEd. 1994, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

Many former students have gained local and national prominence in government. The university had produced two Canadian Prime Ministers, Kim Campbell and John Turner.[169][170] Member of Parliament and current leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, Justin Trudeau, completed his BEd at UBC.[171] Canadian Prime Minister Joe Clark briefly attended UBC law.[172] George Stanley, the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and creator of the current Canadian flag had also served as faculty.[173] Alumni Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh have been Premiers of British Columbia:,[174][175][176] People of UBC Law have also served on the Supreme Court of Canada: former faculty member Beverley McLachlin and alumnus Frank Iacobucci.[177][178]

Canadian academic, science broadcaster and environmental activist David Suzuki was a professor in the genetics department at UBC from 1963 until his retirement in 2001. Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power is a professor at the faculty of law. Psychologist Albert Bandura is an alumnus of UBC. Actress Evangeline Lilly attended UBC, earning her degree in International Relations. Author and historian Pierre Berton majored in history at UBC. Man-in-Motion Rick Hansen was the first student with a physical disability to graduate in physical education from UBC. Opera singers Ben Heppner and Judith Forst studied music at UBC. David Cheriton, who graduated from UBC in 1973 is a Google founding investor and computer science professor at Stanford University.[179] Science Fiction writer William Gibson who first coined the term "cyberspace" earned his bachelor's degree in English at UBC.[180]

UBC alumni have additionally held important positions in the academia. Notable examples are: Indira Samarasekera, twelfth president of the University of Alberta;[181] Amit Chakma, president of the University of Western Ontario;[182] John H. McArthur, dean emeritus of the Harvard Business School;[183] Thomas Franck (lawyer), who was the Murry and Ida Becker Professor of Law at New York University and former Editor-in-Chief of the American Journal of International Law;[184] David H. Turpin, sixth president of the University of Victoria and thirteenth president of the University of Alberta;[185] Michiel Horn, member of the Royal Society of Canada and professor emeritus of history at York University;[186]Monica Lam, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of Moka5;[187] Frank Iacobucci, was a Puisne Justice on the Supreme Court of Canada and Dean of the law faculty at the University of Toronto, as well as Vice President and Provost of the university.[188]

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Further reading

  • William A. Bruneau, A Matter of Identities: A History of the UBC Faculty Association, 1920–1990. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Faculty Association, 1990.
  • Bruneau, William A. (1994). "Toward a New Collective Biography: The University of British Columbia Professoriate, 1915–1945". Canadian Journal of Education 19 (1): 65–79. JSTOR 1495307. 
  • Eric Damer and Herbert Rosengarten. "UBC: The First 100 Years." Vancouver: Friesens, 2009.
  • Michiel Horn."Under the Gaze of George Vancouver: The University of British Columbia and the Provincial Government, 1913–1939." BC Studies 83 (Autumn 1989).
  • William C. Gibson Wesbrook & His University (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press)
  • H.T. Logan, Tuum Est: A History of the University of British Columbia. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 1958.
  • Wayne Skene. "UBC: a Portrait." Vancouver: Tribute Books, 2003.
  • Lee Stewart. "It's Up to You": Women at UBC in the Early Years. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1990.
  • George Woodcock & Tim Fitzharris. The University of British Columbia – A Souvenir. (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1986).

External links

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