UFV once again squeezed for space

An estimated 16,000 students will pass through UFV campuses this year

Staff and students prepare for the school year at the University of the Fraser Valley. The university is once again facing a strain on capacity for students and space.

Staff and students prepare for the school year at the University of the Fraser Valley. The university is once again facing a strain on capacity for students and space.

The University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) will once again be bursting with students this year, with some finding themselves on wait lists for enrolment and classes.

The year’s attendance projections are looking similar to last year, said Eric Davis, provost and vice-president, academic. Like previous years, that will include more full-time equivalent students than the university receives funding for, with Davis estimating that more than 16,000 students will pass through UFV campuses this year.

UFV has campuses and locations in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope, Agassiz, Mission and in Chandigarh, India.

“In terms of space, we are over-capacity as well, especially in Abbotsford where we are at about 128 per cent of our utilization rate for our facilities.”

Davis said that means the university has to plan carefully to “squeeze faculty, staff and students into every space we’ve got.”

He said this often means faculty members share offices and the university must come up with “creative timetabling” in order to make a workable schedule for the greatest number of students in the space and time available. Most of the programs at UFV have already been filled, though a list remains on the university’s website of the programs still accepting applications.

‘It’s a challenge, more and more every year, trying to meet the incredible demand here in the Valley, and doing so with fewer dollars from public funding.”

Davis explained that tuition rates are subject to the rate of inflation and cannot be raised to make up funding. Currently, about half of UFV’s funding comes from the government, a quarter from tuition and the other quarter has to be “made up creatively.” Davis said UFV needs to be entrepreneurial to bring in revenue, while supporting the direction and educational programs of the institution.

Of the students from the Fraser Valley who elect to go on to post-secondary education, about 70 per cent choose UFV, and that popularity and demand pushes the university to accommodate the needs of Valley students.

Davis said this year the university will build a new student centre – a $15-million project – which will begin construction on Sept. 12.

“This will help alleviate some of the crunch,” he said, adding that the space will provide room for students and offices.

UFV also received funding for a new greenhouse and barn to support the agricultural programs in Chilliwack, with construction currently underway.

Davis said there are also new programs planned to come in the next year, including a bachelor of arts in economics, a secondary school option in teacher’s education, and starting this fall, a bachelor of arts in global development studies, which Davis said is already in high demand.

For the many students and staff who travel between UFV campuses, Davis said their lives will be made easier by a new shuttle bus that transports students throughout the day, and the project will help keep cars off the roads.

“It’s a long time in coming and we hope it’s a great success.”

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