VICTORIA— The BC government’s 2023 Budget includes provisions to increase student financial assistance, but without significant and sustained funding increases to post-secondary institutions, post-secondary education will remain out of reach for BC students and their families. In Budget 2023, the provincial operating grant is increasing 5%, which is less than this year’s inflation and ultimately a reduction in funding to institutions. The government has announced a $480 million-dollar three-year investment for the Future Skills Plan, with more details being released in Spring 2023.
“Increasing the amount of student debt someone can take on is not the solution to the skills shortage crisis we’re seeing in our province,” said Melissa Chirino, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students. “We hope the Future Skills Plan will fix the funding model and increase funding for post-secondary institutions so that barriers for learners can be reduced.”
The cost of education has increased significantly over 20 years and it’s more than just the cost of tuition fees. Students struggle with the increased cost of living and the challenge of finding affordable housing. In the 2000-01 academic year, tuition fees collected by institutions were only 34% when compared to the funding provided by the province to institutions through operating grants; in 2020-21 tuition fees were 95% compared to the funding provided by operating grants. The increasing cost of providing post-secondary education has been unfairly downloaded on students and their families, and is disproportionately reliant on international student fees.
“BC needs more nurses, early childhood educators, doctors, and skilled trades people,” said Chirino. “We will only achieve this as a province if we invest in young people and reduce all barriers to post-secondary education. We need to do better.”
The Minister of Finance Katrine Conroy stated that government is forecasting over a million job openings over the next decade and over 80% of jobs will require some level of post-secondary education. Reducing the up-front cost and burden on students and their family is the only proven method of increasing enrollment and supporting student success. Institutions around the province are struggling to keep up with developing educational programming, having sustainable wages for faculty and staff, and offering wrap around supports for students. Public funding has not been consistent over the last 20 years and students and British Columbians are paying the price.
Do you like this page?