Organisations Support Students for BC Budget 2019

| Chantelle Spicer | The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released recommendations for the upcoming BC Budget 2019 that include implications for the post-secondary sector and affordability for students.

The CCPA notes that the lack of funding to post-secondary institutions has contributed to increasing student debt.

“For public post-secondary institutions, provincial operating grants have plummeted as a share of revenue, and institutions have been forced to increase reliance on tuition fees, which is pushing student debt to new heights and eroding the public nature of these institutions.”

The submission to the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services from the Selkirk College Students’ Union recognized this, as well as what this means for the quality of student experience.

“The ongoing pressure faced by institutions has meant reductions in student services and instructional capacity, unmet needs for facility maintenance, and deferral of equipment upgrades needed to ensure that equipment-intensive programs remain effective. While institutions have met the challenge admirably, the cracks in system now stripped to bare bones are showing in reported student outcomes.”

The CCPA also calls for increased supports for students through a comprehensive grants program “for lower-income families with the aim of moving towards a universal reduction and ultimately elimination of tuition fees.”

In the presentation to the Committee, the Students’ Union expressed the need for government to do better for students in the province.

Santanna Hernandez, Chairperson of the Students’ Union stated in the presentation: “In the past, the various government have made claims that, because BC’s tuition fees were about average compared to other provinces, that there was no problem. Without considering the vast living cost differences we see across this country or the objective problems of high fees in all provinces. Frankly, I do not want a government that strives to be average.”

These recommendations, along with others from student organisations and post-secondary institutions across the province, were recognized in the Committees report. In terms of affordability, the Committee recommended eliminating interest on student loans and reviewing “completion grant” and “up-front needs-based grant” models with the aim of ensuring post-secondary students have access to the most beneficial and impactful support.

The BC Budget will be presented in the Bc Legislature on February 19.