Well-connected parents pressure UBC med school to get children admitted

March 9, 2012

The competition for seats at UBC's medical school is so overheated that, according to an internal memo, even prominent individuals are not above asking for special consideration for their children. In the memo, sent nearly a year ago, the admissions director at the time told the executive associate dean of education that he found it "troubling on many fronts" that "allowing submission of late documents has become a recurring theme this cycle." The partially redacted memo mentions a case in which a Victoria-based surgeon affiliated with UBC contacted the school to get it to accept late documents from his daughter. The medical school dean confirms the case of Vancouver Island Health Authority's CEO and his family calling UBC and asking a BC cabinet minister to advocate on the family's behalf in order to get the CEO's son, who was a student at an Ontario university, to apply as a BC resident (BC applicants have better odds of being considered and accepted by the school). In both cases, the students submitted applications but were not accepted. The former admissions director says his resignation last summer was partly due to alleged preferential treatment given to some applicants whose well-connected parents intervened on their behalf during the application process. The dean denies there was any advantage because of parental involvement, noting that applicants have an appeals process to use and they did. He says parental pressure is not totally unusual these days as parents are more "empowered" than ever as their children's advocates on university matters. Vancouver Sun