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Teacher Newsmagazine Volume 19, Number 3, Nov./Dec. 2006

Better funding, better futures

The Federation of Post Secondary Educators (FPSE) has initiated a campaign entitled, Better Funding. Better Futures. You may have seen the print ads in your local newspapers. This campaign is focussed on the sky-high tuition fees and chronic underfunding that is limiting access to post-secondary education for many young people. The ads raise the issues and call on the government to invest in BC’s future. The FPSE web site at www.fpse.ca/ features the ads and an "e-mail Premier Campbell" feature.

The results of a poll conducted by Ipsos Reid in August show that:

  • British Columbians are very concerned about access and affordability issues in our public post-secondary education system.
  • 62% agree that tuition fees at BC’s colleges, universities, and training institutes are too high. This same question has been asked in previous polls. In 2003, 43.8% said tuitions were too high. In 2005, the number climbed to 55%.
  • 70% agree that high tuition fees are preventing young people from getting the degrees and diplomas they need to get ahead.
  • 74% agree that many young people can’t get the courses or programs they need to complete their post-secondary education.
  • 74% think that students in colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions are taking on an unfair burden of debt to pay for their education.
  • 81% agree that student debt is making it harder for students to complete post-secondary education and training.
  • British Columbians think that the provincial government needs to do more to ensure that post-secondary education is more affordable and accessible for all.
  • 90% agree that one of the best ways to solve BC’s current skills shortage is for the provincial government to invest more in public colleges, universities, and training institutes.
  • 80% support the idea of reducing tuition fees.
  • 84% think that the provincial government should increase public funding to post-secondary institutions to support more course options and higher enrolments.
  • 87% support an increase in student grants.

Commenting on the poll in early September, president of FPSE, Cindy Oliver, stated, "It may be back-to-school week for thousands of post-secondary students, but this latest poll suggests it should be back to the drawing board for BC Liberals’ post-secondary education policies."

The Canadian Federation of Students has also been very active in lobbying government to address conditions that create a significant burden of debt on young people attending post-secondary institutions. CFS is calling on the provincial government to provide funding to reduce tuition fees by 10% in 2007–08 and a further 10% in 2008–09.

– Moira Mackenzie

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