NEW WESTMINSTER—Monday’s Speech from the Throne leaves students hopeful that Budget 2023 will include provisions that increase funding to post-secondary institutions in the province. The Speech spoke to the government introducing Future Ready: a skills-training plan to make education more accessible, affordable, and relevant. Students welcome investments to the post-secondary sector that will allow institutions to provide high-quality, affordable education.
“Post-secondary education is a crucial component of the BC economy, as it trains students like me to participate in our workforce,” said Melissa Chirino, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students (BCFS). “However, if we do not invest in post-secondary institutions, how are we even trying to keep up with the demands of the province?”
In recent years, the proportion of public funding to BC colleges and universities has dropped to 41.1% of general operating revenue and tuition fees now make up more than 50% of operating revenue. In order to make up for that lack of public funding, institutions turn to students, specifically international students, to cover the shortfall. This means students and their families are left to figure out how to pay for increased tuition and ancillary fees.
“BC is in desperate need of more doctors, nurses, health care professionals, early childhood educators, and trades people across the province,” said Chirino. “In order to do this, government must increase funding to our colleges and universities so our institutions can provide more affordable education while investing in quality programing, that allows everyone to study close to home.”
The government has invested in students’ financial assistance with the creation of the BC Access Grant in 2020, which seeks to level the playing field for those who cannot afford to pay for their education upfront. However, if public funding does not keep up with the increased costs of delivering the program, the limited funds provided in the grant will not keep up with the demand.
The BCFS is calling on the government to implement an infusion of an additional $200 million dollars annually to support college and university operations to be less reliant on fees they collect from students and their families.
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