It’s time to Invest in Post-Secondary Education

  

The BC government is failing post-secondary education, students and their families.

Funding has declined by 20%.

For 16 years, the government has failed to invest enough in BC’s colleges, universities, and institutes even to cover inflation. Since 2001, operating grants have declined by 20% after inflation. Yet as public funding declines, the cost of post-secondary education continues 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 2016/17 – an increase of 400% - all coming out of the pockets of students and their families.

Although the government implemented a 2% cap on tuition increases, many post-secondary institutions have found ways to bypass the cap and increase fees anyway. 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.

Adult education programs are unaffordable.

In 2014, the BC government cut $22 million from domestic English language programs, forcing public post-secondary institutions to charge high fees to ELL students. In 2015, it canceled its policy requiring Adult Basic Education and Adult Special Education programs to be tuition-free. Now, ELL, ABE, and ASE students have to pay as much as $1,600 per semester to complete a high school diploma or upgrade courses.

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

Around the province, public post-secondary institutions are cutting courses, eliminating programs, and even closing smaller campuses/learning centres in rural communities. Students are being 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.

There has been a 50% increase in the number of administrators at BC colleges, teaching universities and institutes since 2002, and a 200% increase in compensation for administrators during that same period. Those dollars would be better spent on increasing access to education programs and reducing tuition costs for students.

The bottom line…

The BC government predicts that 80% of future jobs will require post-secondary education. So why are they making it inaccessible and unaffordable for students? British Columbians deserve a fully-funded post-secondary education 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.

It’s time for the BC government to invest in post-secondary education. It’s time to invest in people.