BC New Democratic Party leader Adrian Dix and Minister of Advanced Education for the BC Liberal Party John Yap have different priorities when it comes to British Columbia’s post-secondary education system.
The BCNDP’s focus, according to Dix, is on reducing the cost of education by lowering tuition fees and providing more non-refundable grants. The BC Liberal Party, according to Yap, is focused on ensuring the availability of more trades training at post-secondary institutions across BC.
Something both Dix and Minister Yap agree on is the need for job creation in BC and that BCIT’s role in helping to fill those jobs is important.
“In terms of the economic future of the province, all post secondary institutions are important, BCIT particularly in the time of skill shortage,” says Dix.
Minister Yap considers BC’s current post-secondary education system affordable. He affirms that BC has invested 2.6 billion dollars in student financial aid to support students in getting the education for the jobs they will need to fill.
Increases to tuition fees have not been higher than two percent per year since 2001, according to Minister Yap. “That is among the lowest in the country,” said Minister Yap in an interview with The Link, “we have a lot to be thankful for.”
Students in BC face significant challenges when it comes to financial barriers to education. Reducing these challenges was one of Dix’s first campaign promises. “We said we’d pay for it by reinstating a minimum tax on banks,” Dix told The Link, “to ensure that young people, who are facing financial barriers to their dreams, don’t see those barriers in the same way.”
According to the Canadian Federation of Students, a national student lobbying group, tuition fees in BC have been on the rise every year for a decade, increasing at rates faster than inflation. BC also has the highest interest rates of student debt of any Canadian province.
Dix realizes campus-specific issues such as outdated equipment and uncomfortable temperatures in classrooms exist. “People do learn on 1960’s equipment at BCIT in some cases and that’s because on the funding side, the province has let that lapse over the years,” says Dix.
BCNDP Advanced Education critic Michelle Mungall went even further and stated that BC’s current post secondary education system is “dismal.” Minister Yap recently wrote a letter to Dix requesting an apology for the comment made by Mungall.
“This is politics. The role of opposition is to criticize government, but please don’t call our post secondary system dismal,” says Minister Yap.
Having met various people who contribute to BC’s post secondary system, Minister Yap is very confident in the current system. The BC Liberals are making commitments to fund trades training as part of the jobs plan for the province, according to Minister Yap.
“There are probably more clear differences leading into this election than there have been before,” Dix told The Link about the potential provincial election in May 2013, “and most of them involve giving opportunity to young people.”
Nonetheless, BCIT students can be confident in their post-secondary education investment. “BCIT is one of the foundational institutions on trades training and technology, and preparing our learners for the jobs of the future,” Minister Yap told The Link.
As the motto goes, BCIT Works.