B.C. budget slammed by students and professors

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The pre-election budget of the B.C. Liberal government offers little for those who need help paying for postsecondary education, according to groups representing students and faculty members.

Katie Marocchi, chair of the Canadian Federation of Students–B.C., indicated the fiscal plan is inadequate.

“Students were essentially disappointed with the financial-aid program that they introduced,” she told the Straight by phone, referring to the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant. B.C. parents can apply for the one-time, $1,200 grant to be deposited into a Registered Education Savings Plan once their child turns six years old.

“The value of the grant when they enter postsecondary will only cover one-quarter of the first year of education, and that’s not factoring in consideration of tuition-fee increases over the next 12 years,” Marocchi said. “We’ve waited eight years for a replacement financial-aid program since the B.C. Liberals cut the provincial grants program in 2004, and then this is what we got and it was far more inferior and not effective, and certainly not needs-based.”

Robert Clift, executive director of the Confederation of University Faculty Associations of B.C., also criticized the B.C. Training and Education Savings Grant.

“The government’s contribution won’t even cover the increase in tuition fees by the time that kid hits 18,” he told the Straight in a phone interview.

Clift noted that his organization had hoped to see new funding for student aid. “They talked a lot about student aid in the budget yesterday, but they talked about programs that have been in existence for years,” he said.

According to Clift, a single student living solely off student loans “has less to live on each month than a welfare recipient”.

As Finance Minister Mike de Jong tabled the B.C. budget on February 19, he told the legislature his government is “more determined than ever to hold the line” on spending. According to budget documents, the Ministry of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology will see $46 million in spending cuts over the next three years.

Responding to the budget, NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston stated that the fiscal plan contains “little to address student debt”.

“This in a province where students graduate with an average of $27,000 in debt, the highest debt load west of the Maritimes,” he said in the legislature.

Comments (7) Add New Comment
RobertB
why make a fuss. education is useless and just more programming of the mind. learn a trade such as farming, carpentry etc and you are much better of.
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NoLeftNutter
Sheesh, more pissing and moaning from the entitlement crowd. Taxpayers already pay about 80% of the cost of your education and if you went to school to get a useful degree as opposed to say, ancient history or Latin studies, then the debt that you accrue in school should be easily paid by your higher annual income.
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Laura
It is nearly impossible to live off what they give you for student loans and it usually comes down to pay rent or buy food. If you work, you are penalized even further. No way of winning and no way of actually thriving. Is it a wonder why so many students are struggling, drop out frequently, and some never finish their degrees?
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PJ
Last I heard higher education is not a gov.paid entitlement but to work toward.Why shoul the taxpayer pick up your bill so you can go to school,when the poor want more to pay rent and homless want more food mony,etc.If you cant afford it now save up till you can just like any other purchase,soon the tax payer will buy cars for the carless.
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MILT
Dear Laura:Thousands of students go through school without starving,I think they WORK and get loans from family.Student loans are not to live on they are for extras like books and supplies.There is no free ride or there would be a large lines.
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Violet
With all these people standing with their hands out for more mony,where is it going to come from besides to poor TAX payer.Maybe some of these FREELOADERS shoul get off their ### and find work.Ore move where there is jobs,instead of inflated BC.I hear AB is looking for truck drivers .
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Pat
Lots of “students are freeloaders” comments today.

It’s a short-sighted view.

Folks like this rankle at seeing even a nickel of government revenue going toward any program that they don’t personally benefit from.

And they typically are not interested in funding programs that are for the greater good of society, if those folks don’t also get their own piece of the action.

But regions with highly skilled work forces that include scientists, engineers, and other professionals have stronger economies and a better quality of life for all.

… even for those folks who are so tightfisted that they resist the idea, and argue instead that governments should just let universities fall apart from lack of funding.
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