The year is 2023 and it’s been over two full years since the University of New Brunswick welcomed its students back to campus. One would think that the in-person experience of attending one of Canada’s oldest universities would dwarf that of anything you could find at home, right? Well yes and no. For many, it has been a very cumbersome and unaccommodating transition and there are many reasons as to why that is.
When it comes to Canada’s first university what comes to mind? For those who don’t attend the university, they may think, “It must be so historical and decadent, surely!” But for those who do attend it, it has its fair share of issues.
One of UNB’s biggest issues is the lack of study space for its students. Though the historic school hosts upwards of roughly 8,000 students each year, it has not had the ability to accommodate said students’ studying needs. UNB hosts the Harriet Irving Library (HIL), the Science and Forestry Library, and the Engineering and Computer Science Library. One would think having three libraries available for study sounds good enough, but the story takes a much sadder turn once you find out that only one of the three buildings can accommodate more than five small study rooms, that is the HIL.
Even when you look at the actual amount of space the HIL has to offer, it’s not much. It is home to only 13 study rooms that hold three to five people, one study room made for one to two people, and finally only 14 single-student study units. That means at max capacity, the study rooms can only hold up to 81 students. Given that the yearly enrollment rate sits between 7,000- 8,000 students, it means that only 1.08 – 1.25% of students have a space to study when it comes to the libraries on campus.
Available study spaces on campus are crucial to a student’s success and, unfortunately, the numbers show that. According to stocktrade.ca UNB has a graduation rate of only 63% as of 2023.
While that number may shock some, at the end of the day the issue lies in UNB’s lack of accessibility. Whether it be the study spaces students so desperately need, enough parking spaces to actually accommodate students, or even simply decent roads to drive on without risking the well-being of yourself or your vehicle.
It is up to the student union as well as the University itself to take a step forward in fixing these issues, especially considering that according to UNB’s own records, the school had an operating surplus of $3.3 million last year.
We are still Canada’s first English speaking university and that title deserves a reputation worthy of praise and right now, UNB isn’t living up to it.