Grade 11 marks now permanently part of admission to UBC

The temporary policy that let UBC admit B.C. students based on their Grade 11 marks has now become a permanent part of the university’s admission process.

UBC has been able to use Grade 11 marks to calculate admission averages since March 2012, a move originally introduced as an emergency response to B.C. high school teachers’ job action. A policy passed at last Wednesday’s Senate meeting has permanently entrenched the practice, although the worry of teachers withholding Grade 12 report cards is now over.

According to UBC Registrar James Ridge, the policy is being kept in place to provide UBC students earlier offers of admission.

“Our research, and certainly feedback, that we get from applicants to UBC is that our offers of admission often arrive much later than our major competitors’ offers of admission,” said Ridge. “Part of the reason for that is all of our major competitors make offers of admission factoring in Grade 11 marks.”

UBC has been admitting both international students and students from other parts of Canada on the basis of their Grade 11 marks for some time, while the only students to be admitted to UBC solely on their Grade 12 marks were students that were coming in from B.C. secondary schools.

Ridge said a growing body of research shows that Grade 11 marks are almost as good as Grade 12 marks for predicting whether students will succeed in university.

Still, Ridge stressed that Grade 12 marks will still play a significant role in the final admissions decision.

“We consulted with almost 300 high school counselors who are quite supportive of what we’re doing,” he said. “They were the ones who were strongly supportive of the idea of making offers conditional on consistently good academic performance.”

This means it is still possible for a student to lose their admission to UBC due to slipping marks in Grade 12.

Second-year Science student Jimmy Wang said the decision to admit students on their Grade 11 marks should have been made long ago.

“I think that it’s about time they started giving out offers of admission earlier than just a couple of months before we start school,” said Wang. “I just wish it could have been done when I was still applying to UBC.”

However, some UBC faculty members aren’t thrilled about admitting students based on Grade 11 marks. Richard Anstee, faculty senator and computer science professor at UBC, voted against the policy when it was first introduced in March as an emergency measure during the B.C. teachers’ strike.

“At the time of the original motion to use Grade 11 grades, my objections were several,” said Anstee. “First, I felt the second term [Grade 12] grades [would be] verifiable, despite the job action. Second, I was quite concerned that we were acting without giving secondary school students sufficient notice.”

But now UBC has had more time to improve the policy, Anstee believes that the changes will help prospective students make the decision on whether or not to come to UBC sooner.

“I believe this will help us recruit the best and brightest. Many receive offers quite early, even in January, and so we must aim to be competitive,” said Anstee.

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