Volume 96, Issue 95
Friday, March 28, 2003

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UBC offers free tuition to PhDs

By Chris Webden
Gazette Staff

On top of the potent marijuana, doctors of philosophy candidates may have a second integral reason to study on the West coast – free tuition.

Recently, the University of British Columbia announced that, beginning in September 2003, they will be waiving the tuition for all PhD candidates for their first four years of study.

According to Barry McBride, UBC's VP-academic, the school's Board of Governors recently approved the program with little debate, in an attempt to attract the best and brightest candidates.

"[The market for PhD candidates] is a very competitive market, and we want to remain competitive with schools in the United States and in Canada," McBride said, noting the decision was strongly supported by the university's administration and its students.

In addition to the financial support offered in the form of waived tuition, UBC's doctoral candidates already receive an average of $12,000 a year.

According to Marty Kreiswirth, dean of graduate studies at Western, the university does not offer its PhD candidates free tuition, but it does support them with at least $17,000 worth of grants and funding over their first four years.

"For any first-rate institution, the normal thing to do is fund [its doctoral students] quite significantly," Kreiswirth said, adding he feels UBC's announcement is more concerned with public relations than substance.

However, Mark Feltham, president of the Society of Graduate Students, thinks UBC's move to free tuition is a positive step.

"SOGS and the Canadian Federation of Students have been arguing for free tuition for years," Feltham said.

However, Feltham added there is a problem with only funding PhD students for four years.

"Four years is not a realistic time for students to complete a PhD," he said, noting it takes most candidates six or seven years to complete their doctorate.

"It would be nice if free tuition was instituted for all programs across the board, for all students," Feltham said. "Why just PhD students?"

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2002 THE GAZETTE