THE Budget Update announced on Monday by the BC government demonstrates the government’s commitment to increasing access to post-secondary education, say students and educators. Following the recent announcement to eliminate tuition fees for adult basic education and English language learning classes, the Budget Update outlines the funding for these programs.
“Students and faculty have been calling for the elimination of tuition fees for adult basic education for several years,” said Simka Marshall, Chairperson of the BC Federation of Students (BCFS). “The removal of financial barriers for adult education programs will allow some of the most marginalized people in our communities to access basic upgrading and education.”
The Budget Update allocates $19 million in funding for adult basic education and English language learning in the post-secondary and K-12 sectors for the remainder of the 2017-18 year. The government has not provided forecasts for the following years, saying that appropriate funding will be budgeted based on enrolment changes in this current academic year.
“After 16 years of neglect from the previous government on issues related to post-secondary education ranging from tuition fees to working conditions to funding, this government has taken the refreshing position of listening to stakeholders and acting quickly to make improvements for both students and educators,” said George Davison, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC (FPSE). “While there is still much work to do, including reinstating funding for Adult Special Education programs, we commend the government for their action thus far. We look forward to working with them to continue improving the choices and opportunities in post-secondary education for all British Columbians.”
The BC Liberal government eliminated $6.9 million in funding for post-secondary adult basic education programs in December 2014. At the same time, they allowed tuition fees of as much as $1,600 per semester be charged. Since that time enrolment in these programs has declined dramatically—by as much as 60% at some institutions. Since 2013, roughly $15 million has been cut to English language learning programs offered through post-secondary institutions.
The BC Federation of Students represents over 150,000 post-secondary students at 14 universities and colleges in every region of BC. The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC represents 10,000 faculty and staff at BC’s colleges, universities, and institutes.