VANCOUVER–As classes begin at colleges and universities across British Columbia, enrollment numbers show thousands of adult learners trying to access high school upgrading courses are being left behind.

In December 2014, the Christy Clark government eliminated funding for adult basic education (ABE) programming at post-secondary institutions across BC and removed the tuition-free mandate. As a result, public institutions are charging up to $1600 per term in tuition fees. The implementation of fees to adult basic education has lowered enrollment at institutions across the province by 20 to 60 percent.

“The BC Liberal government is keeping low income people out of upgrading classes and is leaving families in poverty,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the British Columbia Federation of Students. “During years of surplus budgets, Christy Clark is cutting funding for programs that help the most marginalized.”

ABE programs provide a range of high school equivalent courses adults of any age returning to school for retraining, including adult special education and basic literacy programs. Tuition fees were eliminated from ABE courses in 2007 after extensive consultations. Christy Clark’s move to cut funding and charge fees directly contradicts her own government’s decision. Last year – the first with fees being charged – saw drastic enrolment declines in these programs at almost every institution.

“Students are returning to school today facing thousands of dollars in new fees,” said Marshall. “Christy Clark is putting low income families last in education.”

For more information on adult basic education and students’ response to Christy Clark’s funding cuts, visit Don’t Close the Doors.

The British Columbia Federation of Students is composed of post-secondary students from 14 universities and colleges in every region in BC. Post-secondary students in British Columbia have been represented by the British Columbia Federation of Students and its predecessor organizations since 1966.