It’s time to Invest in Post-Secondary Education

  

On July 18, 2017, the political landscape in BC changed after 16 years when a new BC government, Premier, and cabinet were sworn in. This change offers an opportunity to improve the post-secondary system in BC as the previous government failed to address the problems that became worse in the time they were in power.


Less than three weeks after the new Premier and cabinet took office, action was taken to make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable. On August 8th, funding for tuition-free Adult Basic Education and English Language Learning was reinstated, removing a barrier that prevented students from accessing high school upgrading classes and English language skill classes. On September 1st, the government announced that former youth in care will now be able to access tuition waivers to attend any of BC’s 25 public post-secondary institutions. The new government has also reduced the interest rate charged on student loans, and has confirmed their goal is to remove interest charges from student loans entirely.


After 16 years, there are many problems within the post-secondary system that need to be addressed. We will continue advocating for policy changes that will fix these and other issues. The changes the new BC government have made show that when we work together, we can open more doors to post-secondary education for everyone in BC.

 

Funding has declined by 20%.

Funding for BC’s colleges, universities, and institutes declined by 20% after inflation. Yet as public funding has declined, the cost of post-secondary education has continued to grow.

 

Tuition revenue has increased by nearly 400%.

Government revenue from tuition and fees has increased from $450 million in 2002 to a forecasted $1.8 billion in 2017/18 – an increase of 400% - all of which comes out of the pockets of students and their families.


Although there is a 2% cap on tuition increases, many post-secondary institutions have found ways to bypass the cap and increase fees. Some do it by cancelling programs, making a few changes, and re-launching them with dramatically increased fees, others do it by increasing “ancillary fees,” which are supposed to be subject to the cap (until they’re not).

 

Student debt is the highest in the country.

Average student debt in British Columbia after completing a four-year degree program is $35,000 – the highest in the country. As fees go up, so does debt, making it harder and harder for students to complete their education and pay off their loans when they’re done.

 

BC’s colleges and universities are becoming less accessible to students who need them.

Over the last 16 years, BC’s public post-secondary institutions have had to cut courses, eliminate programs, and even close smaller campuses/learning centres in rural communities. Students have been forced to go online, travel further away from home, or relocate to a new city entirely, to pursue their studies.

 

Executive compensation shouldn’t come at students’ expense.

Since 2001, there has been a significant increase in the number of administrators at BC colleges, teaching universities and institutes, and a 200% increase in compensation for administrators. Those dollars would be better spent on increasing access to education programs and reducing tuition costs for students.

 

The bottom line…

British Columbians deserve a fully-funded post-secondary education system that will provide them with choices and opportunities to succeed. Making our colleges and universities more accessible and more affordable is better for students, their families, and BC’s economy.

People need access to better choices and better opportunities in their communities.