As you’ll remember the Federation and students across the province have been actively campaigning for the provincial government to undertake a major review of the funding model used for colleges and universities throughout the province, a process that has not been undertaken in nearly two decades.
When the government set its priorities in 2020 the mandate letter for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training included a commitment to conduct a funding review of the sector and today the province announced that this process has begun.
While today’s announcement is an example of how united students’ voices can lead to change, our work is not over yet. We must continue to advocate for the funding review to include increased funding with a focus on making education accessible to those who live in rural parts of the province.
Affordability is a major obstacle for all students. It is even further exacerbated for students in communities outside of the Lower Mainland who face the pressure to move away and study in urban locations to access post-secondary education. Along with leaving their communities, students are also faced with more expensive living costs in urban locations during their education. Large institutions in urban areas disproportionately receive more funding, a larger portion of the pie, than smaller and more rural institutions. Through the review of the funding model and additional funding, we can ensure that our public post-secondary education system is provided equitably throughout the province. All British Columbians will benefit from more funding being put towards helping smaller colleges and universities train an emerging workforce.
A look at funding shortfalls over the last two decades
Between 2000 and 2018, the proportion of provincial funding decreased by 27% in BC; at the same time, institutions looked to create new fees and increase international students’ tuition fees to fill the gaps in their budgets. In recent years, the proportion of public funding to BC colleges and universities has dropped to 40.7% of general operating revenue and tuition fees now make up almost 51% of general operating revenue—this is a marked difference from the past when the province was responsible for more than 80% in the 1980s and more than 90% in the 1970s of institutions’ general operating funds.
This constitutes a massive divestment in public education for the current generation of young people compared to the support provided to those who attended college and university in past decades.
Want to learn more about how BC’s public post-secondary institutions are funded? Check out our most recent lobby document.
Goals of the province’s funding review
The funding review will focus on block funding, which accounts for 75% of the money the government provides to institutions for general operations annually. However, the scope of the review does not include targeted funding, which represents the other 25% of funding provided to institutions for high-demand occupations such as health and technology.
The province has indicated that the funding review will help the government develop an updated funding model with three primary considerations:
- Establish a funding model that fairly and impartially distributes provincial financial resources across the public post-secondary sector;
- Align provincial funding with the education and skills training needs of British Columbians and the communities served by the 25 public post-secondary institutions; and
- Support student success by ensuring access to affordable, high-quality post-secondary education and expanding key student supports.
You can read more about the review’s guiding principles here.
What your students’ unions are doing:
The first phase of the review will begin by engaging stakeholders; the Federation and your students’ unions will work to ensure student voices are part of the conversation. A final report with key findings for the government’s consideration is expected by summer 2023.
Over the years we’ve engaged students to email their MLAs to show their support for the funding review and express the urgent need for increased funding to BC colleges, universities, and institutions.
We will provide more updates on the funding review as they become available and know that together with the support of community groups, faculty, and institutions, we can ensure that the needs of students are at the centre of the funding review.
Education is a service to the BC people, and it must be accessible to all.
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