Independent media needs you. Join the Tyee.

The Hook: Political news, freshly caught

BC university presidents seek funding for spaces and financial aid

The presidents of British Columbia's major universities are asking the province for money to create new post-secondary spaces and increase financial aid for students.

The council is seeking $130 million over four years to create 11,000 new spaces in post-secondary institutions, as well as $51 million a year to increase financial assistance.

The proposal is made in a six-page document called "Opportunity Agenda for BC," which University of Victoria President David Turpin is presenting today to the B.C. legislature's committee on finance and government services on behalf of the Research Universities' Council of B.C..

The other members of the council are the University of B.C., Simon Fraser University, the University of Northern B.C., Thompson Rivers University and Royal Roads University.

"With the growing skills gap where there are not enough educated and trained workers to meet the demands of the labour market in British Columbia, there is a real threat to our economy and the health of our communities," says the RUCBC's submission to the committee which has traveled the province seeking submissions from the public on budget priorities.

"Projections for British Columbia’s labour market show that over the next decade there will be approximately one million job openings in the Province. Of those, 78 percent will require postsecondary education: 35 percent will require a university degree, 28 percent will require a two-year college credential, and 15 percent a trades credential."

In many fields B.C. already awards fewer graduate degrees per capita than other provinces do, and $50 million in cuts are scheduled for the next two years, it says. "Presidents of British Columbia post-secondary institutions have already conveyed the fact that these reductions cannot be made without implications for existing services to students."

Every qualified student should be able to attend a post-secondary institution, which would benefit not just the individuals but the provincial economy, it says.

In September Finance Minister Michael de Jong announced falling natural gas prices had left a $1.4 billion hole in the province's three-year fiscal plan requiring hundreds of millions in cuts. At the time he said the government still intends to present a balanced pre-election budget in February.

Update, 4:05 p.m.: Last year there was the feeling the provincial government singled out universities and colleges for cuts, said Royal Roads University President Allan Cahoon. "We felt particularly picked on as a sector," he said.

The agenda presented today is intended to make the case to the public and the government that post-secondary education isn't the "villain" but a solution, he said. "It should be used as the solution for getting us out of the fiscal challenges we find ourselves in."

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

What have we missed? What do you think? We want to know. Comment below. Keep in mind:


  • Verify facts, debunk rumours
  • Add context and background
  • Spot typos and logical fallacies
  • Highlight reporting blind spots
  • Ignore trolls
  • Treat all with respect and curiosity
  • Connect with each other

Do not:

  • Use sexist, classist, racist or homophobic language
  • Libel or defame
  • Bully or troll
  • Troll patrol. Instead, flag suspect activity.
comments powered by Disqus