UBC launches inaugural Student Diversity Census 

New census will provide UBC with important demographic data to better understand the diversity of the student body, identify barriers to inclusion and opportunities to enhance student experiences, and assess progress. 

Advancing equity and anti-racism is one of UBC’s institutional priorities. Core to advancing these commitments are efforts to identify and address systemic barriers and inequities where they exist for historically, persistently or systemically marginalized (HPSM) students. The newly launched Student Diversity Census is an important step to obtaining a more accurate understanding of student diversity and of the barriers to equitable and inclusive access to programs and services.

Launched on September 25, all UBC students are encouraged to complete the confidential and secure census at their earliest convenience – and in advance of the first data analysis which will use the information provided by students up until December 11. The link to complete the census is available in a student’s Canvas inbox.

“Our efforts to improve student access, inclusion, wellness and success for all students are enabled by our ability to collect student diversity and student experience data,” says Ainsley Carry, Vice-President, Students. “This census provides a quick but important way for students to help us refine our programs and services.”

What’s the difference between a census and a survey? 

While surveys tend to rely on a smaller sample of respondents from a community, a census aims to collect information from everyone (aiming to get as close as possible to 100 per cent participation). A census is used to maximize accuracy when the aim is to gather more robust information on sub-groups within a population. 

The census takes between 5 and 10 minutes to complete. Every question has an “I choose not to disclose” option so that students can participate in the census to the fullest extent with which they are comfortable. 

The census, and census questions, have been developed and guided by consultations with students from HPSM groups. Only aggregate-level data will be reported on and no personally identifiable information will be shared. All information is confidential and hosted on a secure UBC platform. 

“This is now UBC’s principal tool to better understand the diversity of our student community, and it’s essential to our ability to identify barriers to inclusion faced by students,” says Arig al Shaibah, Associate Vice-President, Equity and Inclusion.

“While we have qualitative data and a sense of where those opportunities already lie, the census will provide an additional and important dimension to deepen that understanding and better focus our efforts.” 

The census also fills an important gap in the coordination and standardization of student data collection. Until now, Faculties and programs have engaged in separate and varied ways to collect student demographic data. Now, through a more centralized process, Faculties and programs will be able to have access to a more robust data set for their local needs allowing them to better understand how they can support HPSM students. Faculty and staff interested in learning more about accessing or using student demographic data can contact the Student Demographic Data project team

In early 2024, a report on the results of the Student Diversity Census will be shared with the campus community and institutional leadership including the Board of Governors, to inform future decisions and guide institutional EDI efforts.  

Following this initial roll-out, the census will in the future be integrated into Workday Student

Learn more about the Student Diversity Census here.