Record enrolment fuels UBC’s Okanagan campus growth

New faculty, buildings and program expansions highlight return to classes

Phenomenal growth will see a record number of students at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus with the return to classes in September, according to figures released by the office of the registrar.

UBC’s Okanagan campus currently has 7,901 registered students, including 710 graduate students. To date, 2,049 first-year students are enrolled to start class in the 2011 winter session, up 12 per cent over the same time in 2010. Updated figures for all enrolments will be released later in the fall.

The campus is also attracting students from across Canada and internationally, with one in three new students coming from outside the province. There are 597 international students this year, representing 78 countries, up from 22 in 2005.

“This campus has seen tremendous growth since its inception,” says Doug Owram, Deputy Vice Chancellor and Principal of UBC’s Okanagan campus. “Our reputation as a centre for innovative learning and excellence in teaching has grown year over year as we have attracted more students from around the province, across Canada and representing more countries than ever before.”

Notably, the most significant growth in enrolment is from BC Lower Mainland secondary school applicants, totalling 478 new students, up 36 per cent from last year.

The Vancouver campus will see 5,913 new first-year students, with total enrolment of 47,781 this year, including 37,551 undergraduate and 10,230 graduate students.

But the numbers are only part of the success story. There are several new developments at UBC’s Okanagan campus with return to classes this fall.

From the inauguration of the Southern Medical Program, to the opening of the new School of Health Studies and Exercise Sciences, and the addition of programs, facilities and faculty members, UBC has expanded to meet the unprecedented demand for the delivery of higher education in the BC Interior.

The campus has also completed its initial build out with the opening of three new buildings and other capital improvements totalling $114 million this year alone. This includes: the $31-million Health Sciences Centre, home of the Southern Medical Program; the $68-million Engineering Management Education building, home for the School of Engineering, Faculty of Education and Faculty of Management; and the opening of the $14.9-million Purcell Residence, with 212 beds. This will bring the total number of beds on campus to 1,648 to meet the needs of out-of-town students.

Owram says UBC continues to strive and reach new heights, despite its brief six-year history in the Okanagan since opening in 2005.

“This year we will celebrate a number of milestone achievements in the history of UBC in the Okanagan, as our capacity as an academic institution continues to grow,” says Owram. “It will be an exciting time for students and faculty to explore new learning opportunities and engage in creative thinking.”

For the first time, student physicians will be educated on the Okanagan campus with the inauguration of the Southern Medical Program, which will see the first intake of 32 students. After an initial four months at the Vancouver campus, they will receive the balance of their education at the Kelowna campus, including clinical training at the Clinical Academic Campus at Okanagan General Hospital. Clerkship programs in years three and four will taken them to sites in the Interior including Kamloops, Vernon, Penticton, Trail and Cranbrook.

The new School of Health Studies and Exercise Sciences was created through the merging of the programs of Human Kinetics and Health Studies. The new school offers an interdisciplinary program of teaching, research and community engagement, with specializations in health policy and evaluation and clinical exercise physiology and health promotion.

UBC has pioneered new ways to engage prospective students by reaching out through contemporary media channels and through social media. In addition to a recruitment website ( which attracted more than 90,000 unique visitors this year, the main recruitment and admissions website,, receives close to a million unique visits a year.

A number of new faculty members join UBC this fall. Among those announced are new Provost Wesley Pue, new Deputy Provost and Dean of the College of Graduate Studies Miriam Grant and new Dean of the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies Wisdom Tettey. Gordon Binsted has been appointed Interim Dean of the Faculty of Health Studies and Social Development. Paul van Donkelaar has been appointed director of the new School of Health Studies and Exercise Sciences and Patricia Marck will assume duties as director of the School of Nursing this fall.

And, for the first time, UBC’s Heat will face their inter-campus rivals the UBC Thunderbirds of Vancouver, as the Okanagan campus joins the Canada West Universities Athletics Association in Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) for men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball teams for 2011.

-- 30 --