BC government finance committee recommends increased funding to universities

The BC provincial government’s standing committee on Finance has published its yearly report — recommendations in it include increased operating grants to universities in BC, resources for open education initiatives such as the BC Open Textbook Program, and a needs-based grant system for BC students.

According to the report, these recommendations were made partly in response to student lobbying and high levels of public support.

Through questions asked in an online budget survey, the committee found that BC citizens felt an average of 10 cents of every dollar should be allocated towards advanced education funding. The report also noted that funding for post-secondary education “figured highly in written and oral submissions” to the committee.

“With such a high and constant response rate over the entire consultation period, advanced education is clearly a priority that reaches across the entire province,” the report stated.

All of the recommendations put forward were items pushed for by the AMS. 

“We advocated for … increasing core funding support for universities so that [they] don’t have to create tuition increases to non-protected sectors like international tuition to offset those costs,” said Jude Crasta, AMS VP External.

“One thing that’s really reassuring about this is that a lot of the recommendations that we’ve seen in here come … more explicitly than they have in the past.”

Although the recommendations have yet to be turned into actual budgetary measures, Crasta believes the odds are good.

“Now that we have a cross-partisan committee recommending it, that carries a lot more weight for the minister of finance and the other cabinet members to take it seriously when it comes to a budgeting process,” he said.

“I want to thank the members of the committee for the work they have done and also thank British Columbians for weighing in because that is what the process is about,” said Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson in an email statement to The Ubyssey. “While there are competing demands on provincial funding, our government is keeping post-secondary education affordable and accessible.”

Crasta also noted that another notable recognition from the committee was the importance of the two per cent cap on domestic tuition increase.

“We’re seeing agreement from both parties that the two per cent cap needs to stay if not reduce. So that’s really reassuring for us,” he said.

The budget will be released most likely in mid-February.