VICTORIA, Feb. 21, 2017 /CNW/ - BC Budget 2017 is big on talk of putting money back in people's pockets, but when it comes to BC students and their families, it's short on action, say the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE) and BC Federation of Students (BCFS).
"Every year since 2001, students have been paying more for their education while educators make do with less and BC's colleges and universities struggle to fulfill their mandates," says George Davison, FPSE President. "After 15 years of taking money out of British Columbians' pockets, today's announcements are still failing students, educators, and their families."
With a budgeted increase of 1%, operating grants for universities and colleges continue to be effectively stagnant in this year's budget, meaning students and their families will be left footing more of the bill next year. While the budget does outline funding for capital investments, investment in teaching is ignored.
"Government needs to do more for BC's colleges and universities than build shiny new buildings," says George Davison, FPSE President. "While we appreciate the investment in infrastructure, particularly in maintenance and repair, this cash infusion doesn't do anything to address the past 15 years of declining operational funding or the growing unaffordability faced by students."
The budget provides little relief for students, but it does announce a reduction of interest rates charged on student loans. This reduction moves BC from the province charging the highest rate of interest to closer to the average. Currently interest on student loans ranges from prime plus 2.5% to prime plus 5%; effective August 2017, interest will be limited to prime.
"Students are pleased that the government has taken a step towards mitigating student debt," says Jenelle Davies, Secretary-Treasurer of the BCFS. "This announcement will not only help current and future students, but also those who have graduated or left their studies and are already struggling to make loan payments."
In terms of a financial assistance model, this announcement falls short of what students had hoped for. BC offers the lowest amount of non-repayable financial assistance of any province in Canada, and a comprehensive needs-based student grant program is a high priority for students and their families. Both federations are advocating for a reduction in the overall amount of student debt, which will go a long way to making post-secondary a real choice for low- and middle-income families.
The BC Federation of Students is composed of post-secondary students from 14 universities and colleges in every region in BC. The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for 10,000 faculty and staff in teaching universities, colleges, and institutes across BC.
SOURCE Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC
For further information: Jenelle Davies, Secretary-Treasurer, BCFS, (604) 341-6850; George Davison, President, FPSE, (604) 839-2487