Student demand for courses at the University of the Fraser Valley is outpacing the growth of the university.
Waiting lists are getting longer.
On Thursday afternoon the university held orientation for almost some 900 new students. They toured the buildings led by student guides, visited pavilions that offered information about departments, learned about student life, and lined up for lunch.
Most of them have been queued up to get their courses, as well.
The number of wait-listed students has soared to 5,800, which is 21 per cent higher than last year, and almost 50 per cent higher than in 2009.
“It’s a good problem to have, but it is a problem,” said Eric Davis, UFV’s vice-president academic and provost. “That’s a lot of people who are potentially dissatisfied.”
The school enrolled more than 16,000 students last year.
Most of those on wait-lists are first-year students, while those in fourth year are generally able to get the courses they need.
In a story about this issue in February, students told The News that lineups meant considerable disruption in their lives. Some students reported getting only two of the five courses they needed, and the setbacks would mean more time needed to get their education – and delays in starting their careers.
There is no relief in sight.
Funding is the issue, and the government has not announced any changes.
“They’ve got a $3-billion hole to cover in the province’s budget after the HST referendum,” Davis pointed out.
“It’s a tough moment to be needing government funding.”
He said the school does what it can. Last year it accepted 104 per cent of the admissions it received provincial funding for. This year that is forecast to rise to 105 per cent.
Davis said a partial solution would be a tuition hike, but the province will not allow any increase over the rate of inflation (approximately two per cent).
Government funding covers only about 54 per cent of the annual budget, while tuition covers about 23 to 24 per cent of the costs.
“Raising it would give us much more flexibility,” said Davis, adding that UFV is among the most affordable universities.
At some point, provincial help will be needed to expand UFV, because another problem is the university population is outgrowing its campus facilities.
“We’re running out of physical space,” said Davis.
UFV has campuses in Abbotsford, Mission and Chilliwack, with regional centres in Hope and Agassiz.