Province launches public post-secondary funding review

THE B.C. government announced on Thursday that it is launching a sector-wide review of how it funds operations at British Columbia’s 25 public post-secondary institutions to ensure they have the resources they need to support economic recovery and student success.

The current funding model has not been updated in more than 20 years and has created constraints and inequities for some public post-secondary institutions.

The review will help government develop an updated, modern funding model for British Columbia’s public post-secondary system. It will aim to:

1. Establish a funding model that fairly and impartially distributes provincial financial resources across the public post-secondary sector.

2. Align provincial funding with the education and skills training needs of British Columbians and the communities served by the 25 public post-secondary institutions.

3. Support student success by ensuring access to affordable, high-quality post-secondary education and expanding key student supports.

The review will focus only on block funding provided to public post-secondary institutions for general operations, which represents approximately 75% of government operating grants. Currently, block funding is based on the previous year’s grants and is not linked to specific programs or student seats. Targeted funding, which represents approximately 25% of institutions’ operating grants for high-demand occupations such as health and technology, is not within the scope of this review.

The first phase of the review will begin with targeted engagement with key sector partners, student, labour and sector associations, and public post-secondary institutions. A process for engaging with Indigenous Peoples will be co-developed with Indigenous partners.

The engagement will be led by Don Wright, who will provide a final report of key findings to government for consideration by summer 2023. Engagement findings will be made public.

The second phase, led by the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training with support from Wright and Dan Perrin, will consider the objects and principles of the review to develop policy options and inform the design of an updated, modern funding model.

Don Wright’s career has spanned the academic, government and private sectors. He holds a bachelor of commerce from the University of Saskatchewan, a master of economics from the University of British Columbia, and a doctor of philosophy in economics from Harvard University. Wright was the president of the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). He also served as the deputy minister to the premier, cabinet secretary and head of the public service until 2020. Previously, he was secretary to the treasury board and deputy minister in the governments of Saskatchewan and British Columbia in the ministries of forests, trade and investments, and education.

Daniel (Dan) Perrin is a public policy professional, active in providing public policy advice in British Columbia since 1981. His company, Perrin, Thorau and Associates Ltd., has undertaken hundreds of assignments for all manner of provincial public-sector entities, ranging from ministries to Crown corporations and authorities, to local governments and First Nations. He has participated in several independent, expert reviews in areas that include the B.C. budget process, real estate regulatory reform, money laundering in real estate, tax competitiveness, replacing MSP premium revenue, reforming disability assistance and the Expert Panel on Basic Income. In the post-secondary education sector, he has undertaken several projects related to post-secondary funding, including a previous review of funding for the sector, as well as funding of trades training and funding of undergraduate and post-graduate medical education.