The Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services has endorsed students’ unions’ request for increased post-secondary funding.
The Canadian Federation of Students-British Columbia (CFS-BC), appeared before the committee to make the case for increased government help for student funding in BC.
VIU Students’ Union organizer and advocacy representative Patrick Barbosa said they were asking for tuition fee reduction, the elimination of interest on student loans, increased per-student funding for colleges and universities, and the creation of an upfront needs-based grant system.
Barbosa said they highlighted the discrepancy in student funding. “There is no reason students in Nanaimo should receive less funding than students at UBC.”
The CFS-BC is asking for a level of equality and hopes to be able to get the funding increased to the same as other institutions in the same scholarly category.
Barbosa said the committee endorsing their requests is a small step forward as they didn’t endorse it in its entirety.
“It’s not an amazing recommendation,” said Barbosa.
The recommendation from the committee is suggesting marginal funding increases to universities and colleges, considering a reduction in student loan interest, and exploring the implementation of a grants program.
Barbosa said the weakness of the recommendation sticks to the trend of the government cutting services to young people in favour of supporting baby boomers.
“Saddling students with debt is not a smart strategy,” said Barbosa.
The average student debt upon graduation is $25 to $35k. “University should be available for everyone with less debt,” said Barbosa. “People need to get involved with the political system and vote. Having people’s voices heard is important.”
Barbosa said funding has not kept up with inflation and although there is no shortage of tax breaks for baby boomers, there is a shortage of support for the upcoming generations.
“Young people can’t have other people making decisions for them,” Barbosa said.