University continuing to lobby provincial government for removal of domestic tuition cap

The university is continuing to lobby the provincial government to remove the cap on domestic tuition that was implemented in 2005. The cap prohibits domestic tuition increases of more than 2 per cent a year.

The last time the cap was removed in 2002, domestic tuition almost doubled in three years until the cap was put back in place.

According to the UBC Operating Budget presentation to the Board of Governors in April of this year, the long-term sustainability of the university requires flexibility from government on such things as domestic tuition and program fees.

Although the government reinstated its commitment this year to maintaining the cap for the foreseeable future, the issue of a lack of funding still remains for the university.

“The domestic tuition cap is a challenge for the sector,” said Interim Provost Anji Redish in an email statement. “It has limited our ability to raise the necessary revenue needed to continue delivering high quality university education. It is especially challenging in the face of increasing operating costs and inflation, and a mandate from the province to maintain a balanced budget at all times.”

The issue is that, while the ability of the university to gain revenue from domestic tuition has been limited since 2005, funding from the provincial government has been dropping steadily.

A brief on post-secondary affordability and accessibility to the AMS from Pierre Cenerelli, then-university and government relations advisor, noted that public funding from the government has decreased significantly. In 1982, it made up 83 per cent of the university’s operating budget — by 2012, it made up less than 55 per cent.

Don Fisher, acting principal of Green College and professor emeritus in UBC’s Faculty of Education, sees this as a major hindrance to the accessibility of university education.

“If government funding decreases … then what’s happening structurally is that the responsibility is being moved from the collective to the individual,” said Fisher. “One of the things that we’re trying to achieve in British Columbia is equality of opportunity as much as possible ... If indeed the individual is made more responsible for their education, then what we see is differences in opportunity.”

The BC provincial Minister for Advanced Education, Andrew Wilkinson, told The Ubyssey that — although the provincial government is committed to keeping higher education accessible — it’s a responsibility shared by everyone.

 “[The] government encourages families in B.C. to start planning and saving early for post-secondary education or training programs for their children,” said Wilkinson through an email statement via spokesperson.

As it stands, the university will continue to lobby the provincial government for removal of the tuition cap.

A previous version of this article incorrectly called the Minister of Advanced Education Alexander. It has since been updated to amend this error.