Response to SAFS by Dean John Cairns

September 2001

August 2, 2001

Dear Dr. Seligman:

I am replying to your letter of June 20, 2001 in which you expressed concern on behalf of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship of the movement of the Faculty of Medicine at UBC to increase aboriginal enrollment. We thank you for your interest in our processes.

The developing policy for the selection of aboriginal applicants sets target enrollments and enhanced or facilitated access in accordance with the UBC Senate Admissions policy. In line with other faculties at UBC (Faculty of Law, Faculty of Education) the Faculty of Medicine has a responsibility to provide equal access to training in medicine to people of British Columbia. The Faculty of Medicine, in line with policies and procedures in other faculties at UBC, has chosen to orient the selection processes for aboriginal students towards our understanding of the systemic issues that exist for aboriginal students in accessing post-secondary education.

The UBC Faculty of Medicine currently has 11 aboriginal students enrolled in the undergraduate program. These students meet all requirements of the MD degree, and are not seen as being "expected to perform more poorly after graduation". The policies of the Faculty of Medicine do not involve a belief that aboriginal physicians will necessarily return to their communities to treat aboriginal patients. On the contrary, we would support aboriginal physicians to access further training and deliver service in the areas most appropriate to their skills and abilities. The intention is to increase the capacity for aboriginal people to participate in the delivery of health services to the Canadian people.

Yours sincerely,

John A. Cairns, Dean

cc. Dr. Martha Piper, President, UBC.