Not Good For The School – “The chance of them coming here, even with a massive research budget, is basically close to zero becuase they can not afford the housing that they would be accustomed to for their life situation. If this city continues as it is for the next 20 years, we will have no more city.”


“I was at a party last night. Some interesting local celebs were there as well as some normal people (like me). One was a young professor from UBC. They are from out of town and are quite open to both renting and leaving town in the mid-term as it does not make sense to own here. They also commented that the University has had little success in attracting talent from outside Vancouver to fill top-level positions. Let’s say you want to hire a new dean of Science. You have found a 48-year-old who is at the top of the field, an amazing educator and researcher and who would be a trophy to have in the school. The chance of them coming here, even with a massive research budget, is basically close to zero becuase they can not afford the housing that they would be accustomed to for their life situation. Thus – most jobs are being filled internally now. Not good for the school.”
– from a comment by yvr2zrh at VCI 21 Dec 2012 4:36am

In the same comment, yvr2zrh also made the following interesting and archive-worthy statements:

Regarding market sentiment and activity:

1.) MOI for December will be the second worst in 15 years. We will likely hit 11. This is a really bad sign as we are typically quite low at the end of the year.
2.) Comparing to 2008, we are deteriorating now. For December, there are even pockets of Vancouver where we may see the December sales lower than December 2008. For November, we compared against November 2008, which is likely Vancouver’s worst month in history. We were up 90% against November 2008 in terms of unit sales but for December 2012, we are only going to be up about 35%.
3.) Van West Detached, Van East Attached and North Van are trending below 2008 lows.
4.) We are starting to see serious motivation in some sellers. Although we have the real estate board spewing out concepts such that sellers will collude to restrict supply to keep prices high, this just does not affect the market. We have a free and open market with 10,000′s of market participants. You will have a lower supply when prices are weak but this will not counteracy the downward forces of the market.

Regarding Carney’s housing allowance in London:

As someone who has worked around the world for over 10 years and who knows many of the housing situations for executives in Central London, I am not surprised or shocked at the alllowance and what this will allow him to get will be nice but not outrageous for someone of his level. In London, for $20,000 per month, you can get a decent apartment for an executive family. Remember that he will keep his house in Canada and only move there temporarily. Thus, he will need to pay out of his own pocket, extra rent, which when paid for by the BOE is taxed. Thus, a 400,000 annual allowance will basically be enough for him to get a 2,400 sq ft apartment in the city of London in which he can live and possibly use for typical entertaining.
That being said – if UBC were to hire a professor to come here on a permanent basis, in order to make them whole on housing, you would likely need to offer a 1.5 million signing bonus, which would be taxed, and from which they would have enough to get into the housing market at the level which they are accustomed to. If this city continues as it is for the next 20 years, we will have no more city.

40 responses to “Not Good For The School – “The chance of them coming here, even with a massive research budget, is basically close to zero becuase they can not afford the housing that they would be accustomed to for their life situation. If this city continues as it is for the next 20 years, we will have no more city.”

  1. I guess renting is out of the question.

    • No it isn’t, but it does represent a hurdle.
      Most of these candidates (“48-year-old who is at the top of the field”) would be coming from towns/cities where they’d easily own a large, affordable SFH within easy commute of their workplace.
      So the crux is “they can not afford the housing that they would be accustomed to for their life situation”

      • I wonder how many prestigious Stanford profs can afford housing in Palo Alto.

        UBC’s problem is being in too nice an area, perhaps.

      • UBCghettodweller

        yvrhousing- you definitely have a good point.

        Buying near Standford or Berkeley, let alone UCSF, is insane, even post-housing market crash. The rental markets in the Bay Area near Standford and Berkeley are far better than near UBC or the Westside of Vancouver in in terms of quality and selection, but not price.

      • Anonymous UBC Professor

        “prestigious Stanford profs can afford housing in Palo Alto.”

        My friend is a tenured prof at Stanford. They bought a detached house in faculty housing on campus. It cost about $750k. That seems like a good deal, given Stanford’s prestige, Stanford’s salaries, Stanford’s faculty housing options, and overall salaries available in that area.

    • No, it certainly shouldn’t be.

      But good luck finding a stable, decent, longterm place to rent near UBC if you have a family.

      • Well if you want stability… Not everyone cares about that, and there are stable rentals around, for the right price.

        If one wants stability perhaps vanwest isn’t the right place

      • I think most people want to know the house/condo isn’t going to be sold out from under them. Surely most families would?

        And how many stable rentals are around “for the right price”?

        A lot of faculty do commute from other neighbourhoods in town already, but a lot would prefer to be closer to their workplace, naturally.

      • Agree epte, the westside is a desirable location, from what I’ve seen over the past generation there isn’t much stable about the marginal buyer. They are changing in composition every 5 years or so.

        I know a couple of families who rent on 5y leases. Hard to find but they’re there.

      • Thanks yvr, good to know about 5 yr. leases! Let’s hope that becomes a fad!

  2. I am on a tenured track position at UBC and I find it hard to believe that UBC’s focus is on faculty and not students.

    Have we all collectively forgotten that we must place cost effective and useful education to our young generation. Canada is no longer a unique competitive advanced nation that can rest on its laurels and may coddle faculty. We must reframe direction and focus on what can make our students successful and alleviate standards of Canadian high school students.

    At my engineering classes, 98% of students are overseas or first generation immigrants. There is an elephant in the room on how much long term Canadians underperform – this is completely ignored at the university.

    Money is spent on faculty without metrics to evaluate their benefit to students or tax payers – UBC and faculty are not the Catholic Church or have claim to so called papalcy unfalability.

    • I don’t want to be too confrontational, but given the errors in the post above, I might see cause for questioning Magnus’s claim that he/she has a tenure-track position at UBC.

      • Anonymous UBC Professor

        Agreed. I think any tenure-track prof would know how to spell tenure-track properly.

        In my recent (technically oriented) class, 60% of the students were east Asian and 40% were causasian. Of the students who scored 90% or higher, 60% were caucasian and 40% were east Asian. I admittedly don’t know their respective immigration statuses, but I don’t see a huge correlation between top academic performance and ethnicity / recency of immigration.

      • UBCghettodweller

        Anonymous UBC Professor, I think your assessment is pretty accurate. I’ve seen the same thing in science and engineering classes. Despite being the “University of a Billion Chinese” many of the top grades, if not a disproportional fraction, end up going to the “white” kids.

        I could go on a pretty long rant about academic elitism and visible minorities because I grew up in communities where I was often the only Caucasian kid in my classes but I’m so f-ing tired of the subtle and nearly ubiquitous racism I see in Western Canada shown by both the established white families and recent immigrants that I’ll leave it be. There’s enough gasoline on the fire already and is doesn’t serve to solve some of the very obvious difficulties we’re having with multiculturalism in Vancouver and similar cities. If anything, my experiences have taught me that people are universally bitter, tribalistic, and ethnocentric.

  3. UBCghettodweller

    This is not an isolated incident. I’ve seen several junior faculty candidates or higher administration candidates from other institutions interview and be given a serious job offer but then take a new position elsewhere mostly because of cost of living issues in Vancouver.

    Because endowment funds have taken a shit-kicking and there are multiple budget cut backs, many faculties lack the funds necessary to offer a cost of living offset hire good people. Combine this with a severe overproduction of PhDs (about 10 for every 1 faculty position in North America), UBC can just wait until they find someone desperate enough. In the mean time they fill lecturing positions with comparatively cheap sessionals where there is no institutional obligations like tenure.

    Most academics are trained to analyse swaths of data and draw inferences and conclusions from it. Looking at any data set from the Vancouver housing market and the cost of living leads one to simply conclude that something is very, very, fishy about this city.

    • Why would a newly minted PhD turn down a position with a top school like UBC when the number of faculty positions are so few, relative to the number of applicants? Not buying it. We mentor many doctoral students in the faculty of medicine and I think it would be fair to say they would take any tenure-track position, anywhere, if offered.

      • UBCghettodweller

        I won’t name which department this is but the turning down of offers has happened more than once. Maybe the other institution just had a better offer? I’ve also heard word of the applications just being used to play one university of another by the applicant to ensure wage or political advancement.

        You’re absolutely right though about applicants usually taking anything they can get. The current PI I work for interviewed at more than a dozen places before getting one offer. Apparently that’s very typical in my field.

        But, I’m not sure any newly minted PhDs ever get offered a faculty positions these days. There’s that pesky five for more year post-doc that needs to produce at least two Cell/Science/Nature first authorships and generate some sort of semi-portable project that will pretty much ensure success when applying for a CIHR or NSERC grant. I’m some years away from finishing my PhD, and I’m already searching for a Post-Doc position that will be fertile grounds for an atyptical model system that is cheap, genetically tractable, and can be used for forward or reverse screens that will give me a bolus of hits to use for new projects. The last thing I want is to do what everyone else is doing.

        Either that or I’m totally out of the loop and please, please, tell me where these opportunities at UBC are for new PhDs to get a faculty position? If I could skip a post-doc I would consider toughing it out in this city.

      • I never stated I knew of any positions at UBC, my post was meant to imply that positions are rare and I doubted a new PhD would turn down an offer just because RE is crazy here, a statement you confirmed in your last paragraph. I do wish you success though, and I appreciate your ambition, “at least two Cell/Science/Nature first authorships” is a lofty goal, good luck.

      • UBCghettodweller

        Thanks allen:)

        I wish two vanity journal first authorships was just “lofty”- it seems to be a minimum requirement these days!

      • Is my career over if I don’t publish in Cell, Science or Nature?
        Papers in top journals open doors, but Miller says an alternative to having one first-author, top-tier paper is to do so several times in middle-tier journals. Given the eight per cent and seven per cent acceptance rates at Science and Nature, Alvaro says: “The odds are stacked against you. I don’t think you should feel your postdoc career was a failure if you did not get into one of those journals.”

  4. I would move to and live in Vancouver only if 2 conditons existed.

    1 – It didn’t rain as much……….

    2 – Housing wasn’t overpriced by 100%………

    So, when #2 corrects ,I still won’t move there.

  5. Sauder has a new dean. Two things: turns out he’s a long-time vancouverite and (another) expert in RE. So UBC combs the planet for a top academic and they hire someone who probably already owns here. Handy.

    • We did talk about how the new Sauder Dean was basically an internal hire because they could not source an outsider to come. Not sure all the background on this but they tried to make it sound like they scored a serious winner (and he is good) but really it is just a returning prof who already has his housing sorted here so that was not part of the equation.

  6. Real Estate Tsunami

    There are too many freaking eggheads posting on this blog.
    Get a real job, like selling Real Estate.
    UBC is a joke, and so is SFU.
    They are not accessible (academically and transportation wise) to the average white devil Canadian Student.
    I wonder how Universities in Austria and Germany are free to those with limited resources, but here, local students nave no financial support.
    No wonder UBC and SFU are overrun with Asian students, whose parents can pay exorbitant tuition fees.

    • As far as I can know, all students still have to earn their way into UBC via their marks. (I’ve taught both high-school and university students here.)

      • Real Estate Tsunami

        I’d like to agree,
        But how to you account for such a high % of Asian students.
        Money (bakshees) must be a factor.

      • Real Estate Tsunami, you wrote: “But how to you account for such a high % of Asian students.
        Money (bakshees) must be a factor.”

        In my experience, the most important factor involving the families of the students who get in to UBC is their placing a very high value on university education and inculcating that in their children. The students I’ve seen get into UBC work hard to get there. UBC’s admissions system is pretty cut and dried — you have the grades, you have a good chance. They’ve recently added short essays to their admissions requirements, but otherwise it’s pretty much a numbers game.

  7. Real Estate Tsunami

    As for Carney,
    What has he done that merits his promotion?
    Keep interest rates low and print money?
    Just like Greenspan and Bernanke, he’s just fooled the masses.

  8. Asia is leap frogging North America in terms of innovation and manufacturing prowess.

    Aside from less pollution and time away from competitive societies, North American universities advantage will diminish in eyes of Asians.

    UBC has pampered the faculty far too much in recent years and had forgotten its mandate to educate and prepare young British Columbian for better future. The tuition cost has gone up astronomically to fun expensive water fountains, over sized faculty wages, buildings with no clear benefits, over backs of young Canadians – there are vast swathes of our young citizens that no longer aspire that they can join UBC due to the cost.

    I think if the faculty of UBC was more exposed to the real world – the level of education offered will be more aligned to granting better opportunities for the next generation.

    Faculty and senior administrators are more focused on their salaries and their benefits to care about undergraduates. With this attitude, UBC will continue on path of decline, like the North American middle class.

    • Novice Parent — I understand frustration about tuition fees.

      But some of your points puzzled me.

      “Aside from less pollution and time away from competitive societies, North American universities advantage will diminish in eyes of Asians.” Have you lived in the United States? I’ve lived in different cultures and the I’d say U.S. is one of the most competitive places I’ve seen, for better and for worse.

      And how is the UBC faculty insulated from “the real world”? Are they not part of it?

      • Naked Official #9000

        Novice parent is a loyal comrade from the wu Mao dang, special forces unit #326 – he is here to assist in sewing discord!

  9. Compensation details for new Sauder dean:

    I guess I am not the only one finding this excessive.

    • Real Estate Tsunami

      As an employer, I completely agree with you.
      I don’t even bother interviewing white kids for jobs anymore.
      Asians are more focussed, willing to learn and take risks and most importantly, can take criticism.”

    • Agreed. But a). that’s far far more than most UBC professors would ever hope to see; and b). one might say Sauder is more hooked into what some might think of as “the real world” — for the worse, I’d say.

    • Christ, his contract stipulates UBC must find a “meaningful role” for his partner. Irrespective of her suitability or their need apparently. Disgusting contractual nepotism.

      I’m a UBC grad and they will never receive a single penny from me again.

  10. 1 – It didn’t rain as much……….Not a problem at all
    2 – Housing wasn’t overpriced by 100%……What I see is closer to 300%
    3 – Is there any multiculturalism in Vancouver?
    Line that separate West and East must be moved closer to Hope
    I think the main culprit of the infamous Vancouver bubble is the cultural difference. Germaneese usually move in big numbers, following the given direction.

  11. UBC has become pure money making machine, nothing personal, just business. Why bother to advance science, if there is good supply of payers?

  12. “Christ, his contract stipulates UBC must find a “meaningful role” for his partner. Irrespective of her suitability or their need apparently. Disgusting contractual nepotism.”

    You must be unfamiliar with University hiring practices. This is very, very common– usually referred to as the “two-body problem”. Academics tend to marry other academics, and finding a role for a new faculty member’s spouse is an accepted part of the process.

    Also, please lose the racism, thx.

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