In Vernon, we’re fortunate to have post-secondary institutions that are nearby and have, historically, been widely available. Studies show that education and income are correlated. Education equates to longer lives and more active citizens in civic, community and economic spheres. Education is positive for communities so it makes sense for public policy to support it.
In B.C., tuition has increased more than in any other province since 2001, and B.C.’s average student debt is the highest in Canada at $35,000. Today, the province collects $1.8 billion in tuition revenue, compared to $452 million in 2002, and it’s set to collect 8.9 per cent more this year. Despite capping tuition increases at two percent, tuition revenue has continued to climb between 3.5 and 10 per cent, and all of this while government funding had decreased by 20 per cent after accounting for inflation.
It means that students overall are paying 400 per cent more in tuition than they were 15 years ago. It means more debt, and more students having to hold down multiple jobs while trying to get their qualifications. Students are also reporting alarmingly high levels of anxiety and depression.
The result is generations of students who have had to delay their studies, and will need over a decade to repay their students loans. Policies in education are impacting students well beyond the time they finish their training. They’re translating into delays in entering the housing market, starting families, saving for retirement, and spending disposable income locally.
At a time when 80 per cent of future jobs in the province will require some form of post-secondary qualifications, why are government policies are making it harder to access colleges and universities?
Good public policy invests in people, and helps people in Vernon get a foot in the door to earning a living wage.
George Davison, president
Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of B.C.