Welcome to the Fall Semester!
Across British Columbia, post-secondary campuses are abuzz with fresh faces and returning students, eager to begin their studies and join in on the welcome week events students’ unions and institutions have planned. However, the back-to-school enthusiasm is mixed with concerns about the growing affordability crisis facing students in BC and across Canada.
The BC Federation of Students is responding with the launch of its new campaign, Rise Up, to encourage students to join its call for a better student experience and affordable education.
Excessively high tuition fees, a lack of affordable housing, and the rising costs of living has countless students drowning in debt before they even enter the workforce. Decades of inconsistent government funding has left students to pay the price; institutions continue to rely on tuition fees, including the overreliance on international student tuition fees, to make up for gaps in their budgets.
“The Rise Up campaign is about more than just addressing affordability issues. It’s a rallying cry for students to use their collective voices to demand change,” said Melissa Chirino, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students. “Every student deserves the opportunity to pursue their education without being crushed by the burden of student debt or struggling to make ends meet.”
Tuition fees are one of the biggest financial hurdles for all students in BC. Domestic student fees have increased by 32% for undergraduates and 78% for graduates since 2006. As of 2022, average undergraduate fees total $6,256 annually. To make matters worse, unlike domestic fees, international student tuition fees are entirely unregulated in BC, meaning institutions can increase these fees by any amount, at any time. In 2002, international student fees were already 266% higher than domestic fees; as of 2022, international students now pay 528% more than domestic students.
The burden of student loan debt has reached alarming levels as the costs of living and obtaining an education continue to rise. Nearly half of all students graduate university in debt, with the average graduate in British Columbia owing almost $29,000.
“Finding a place to live near campus is nearly impossible now, students are forced into long commutes and unaffordable rental situations,” said Chirino. “How can we expect students to succeed when they are worried about finding housing and struggling to pay for basic necessities such as food, gas and monthly bills on top of tuition fees and textbook costs.”
As the new academic year begins, the BCFS is calling on the British Columbia government to take action by prioritizing funding for the post-secondary education system. It’s time to turn the page on an era of student financial struggle and strive for affordable education that no longer requires students to accumulate massive debts or creates the inability to meet daily living expenses.
We look forward to fighting with you, and for you this year.
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