Thorough, accurate, and in-depth research is the basis for any proposal presented to government. The Federation studies and prepares analyses of government policies and trends in post-secondary education, conducts public opinion polling, and develops alternatives that reflect and address students’ concerns. This research is used to influence both government and public opinion.
The Federation’s primary purpose is to work for an affordable, accessible, high quality, and public post-secondary system in British Columbia, and across the country. Effective organizing on these issues requires a three pronged approach that includes research, lobbying and mobilization.
The Federation meets regularly with elected members of government, political staff, and civil servants, and represents students on a variety of government advisory committees. Both provincially and nationally, student representatives meet with elected members of government during the Federation’s lobby week and bring students’ concerns to the table. Often, decision-makers are very receptive to students’ proposals and agree to implement them or work with students to affect change.
Of course, regular meetings with government and the very best research mean nothing if the government is unsupportive and doesn’t see that a proposal has widespread public support. By mobilizing students and community members through activities as diverse as letter-writing, petitions, mass rallies, protests, and social media, the Federation works to both educate the public about these issues and to put pressure on decision-makers to implement students’ recommendations. Broad-based public support and community building are essential for bringing about positive change in our society.
In 1975, students across British Columbia saw the need to work together with a single, united movement in order to be an effective force for provincial and national change. Today, the Federation brings together over one hundred and thirty thousand students from thirteen university and college students’ unions across British Columbia.
The Federation provides a venue for for students to effectively communicate, collaborate, organize, and mobilize to advocate collective interests locally, provincially, and nationally. The Federation also provides valuable services for individual members and member local students’ unions.
All positive changes to public education in the last century have come from people working together to fight for something better. When it comes to building better communities and better public services, we are stronger when we work together than when we are working alone. Governments—both provincial and federal—are often reluctant to implement policies that benefit students and their families. A chorus of voices calling for a common goal is a powerful tool to bring about change. Working together through the Federation gives students across BC a united voice and influence on public policy.
By working together for more than 40 years, students have won some major victories, including:
BC’s tuition fee cap
ongoing, started in 2005
$800 million in new federal funding for post-secondary education
Canada’s first national system of grants for low- and middle-income students (2008)
A U-Pass for Vancouver students
Tuition fee-free adult basic education and English language learning programs
A reduction in interest on BC student loans
Elimination of interest on BC student loans
Funding for open education resources development
- To organize students on a democratic, co-operative basis in advancing our interests and those of our community;
- To provide a common framework within which students can communicate, exchange information and share experiences, skills and ideas;
- To ensure the effective use and distribution of the resources of the student movement
- To bring students together to discuss and to achieve necessary educational, administrative, or legislative change wherever decision-making affects students;
- To facilitate co-operation among students in organizing services that supplement our academic experience, provide for our human needs and that develop a sense of community with our peers and other members of society;
- To articulate the real desire of students to fulfill the duties, and be accorded the rights of citizens in our society and in the international community; and
- To achieve our ultimate goal–a system of post-secondary education that is accessible to all, which is of high quality, which is nationally planned, which recognizes that the legitimacy of student representation and the validity of student rights, and whose role in society is clearly recognized and appreciated.
An organization run BY students, FOR students
The BC Federation of Students is managed by a board of directors, that is made up of elected students representatives from across the province.