British Columbia

UBC looks to Grade 11 marks for B.C. applications

The University of British Columbia says it will not accept grades issued to Grade 12 students in B.C. until they are verified by the province, but is considering a plan to use Grade 11 marks for early admissions.

The University of British Columbia says it will not accept grades issued to Grade 12 students in B.C. until they are verified by the province, and that is causing concerns amongst teachers and students.

But the university says it is considering a proposal to admit some students based on their Grade 11 marks in April, and evaluate others based on Grade 12 marks in May.

Because of the ongoing teachers' strike and contract dispute, teachers in B.C. have not been issuing normal report cards. But teachers have been issuing grades to Grade 12 students directly so they can apply to post-secondary institutions.

The grades have been accepted by most post-secondary institutions in B.C., but without official report cards, UBC associate director of admissions Michael Bluhm says it plans to wait until May when it can confirm grades with the Ministry of Education.

UBC officials say the grades are essentially self-reported by students on their applications and without verification that could lead to irregularities on the 12,000 applications it is expecting this year.

In the meantime the UBC Senate will decide on Wednesday whether to grant early acceptance in April to some students based on Grade 11 marks.

"If a student's done well in Grade 11, we can recognize that by providing an earlier decision, but that decision wouldn't be a refusal. If students have not done so well in Grade 11, that's not going to get them turned away from UBC," said Bluhm.

Bluhm says students relying on marks from their final year of high school would still be considered on their Grade 12 spring grades once the university receives those from the province in early May.

Delays unnecessary

The president of the B.C. Teachers Federation Susan Lambert says the delays are unnecessary.

"The BCTF doesn't understand why UBC is doing this." said Lambert.

Lambert says teachers have followed through on a commitment to give students grades for university applications, and UBC should be accepting them.

"We'll have to work with UBC. They're not self-reported grades. These are teacher grades that teachers are giving to students for graduation purposes."

"We will communicate with UBC that those marks are authentic marks and they should be accepted by UBC.

UBC says it has a strong working relationship with the BCTF, and it is working with teachers on a solution.

"Our plans have been in full cooperation and communication with the BCTF, and we have in no way devalued the work teachers do or the marks they provide," said Bluhm. 

For Sir Charles Tupper Secondary Grade 12 student Agalee Ghirra the delays are just making her anxious about the future of her education.

Ghirra has applied to another university but studying science at UBC is her first choice.

"It leaves a lot of us stuck, because do we pick those other universities that we applied to, or are we going to wait until this acceptance?" says Ghirra.

Back-to-work legislation

Meanwhile in Victoria, the B.C. government says back-to-work legislation to end the teachers' job action should be law by Thursday afternoon and it expects report cards will be issued in April.

The province's 41,000 teachers have been without a contract since June and began job action in September, which included not filling out report cards.

Last week they staged a three-day strike after the government introduced legislation to end the job action and appoint a mediator to settle the dispute or impose a contract by September.

Key issues in the dispute include wages, benefits, class sizes and support for special needs students.