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Lobbying for Change: An Insider’s Perspective with VP External, Nolan Nordwall

book and gavel

Most high school graduates aim to pursue post-secondary education, but this route is no longer affordable to many due to the rise in tuition: 2.6% higher for domestic students and 8.0% higher for international students compared to last year, according to Statistics Canada. To bypass this, students would apply for loans, meaning they may face an overwhelming pressure to pay them off while worrying about finding a job post-graduation. 

And what’s at stake is no small number: a whopping average debt of $15,300 in loans has been estimated for college graduates. To help relieve the financial burden, the Canada Student Grant (provided by the federal government) was doubled during the pandemic, with the increased funding available until this July. But as summer approaches, many students become more concerned about their financial prospects: what happens to their funding after July?

With these obstacles, it is crucial that we speak up and advocate for ourselves and other students. And this is precisely what Nolan Nordwall, a recent Computer Systems Technology graduate, is doing: he represents students’ interests by lobbying for students’ rights. This means he brings up students’ needs to the provincial government in Victoria and the federal government in Ottawa. 

Nolan’s journey into lobbying

For two years, Nolan has been on the frontlines of student advocacy, consistently active in the Student Association (SA), starting out as a representative of his class. He then became the Chair of the School of Computing and Academic Studies. In his second year, he advanced to the Vice President External role in the SA, which, to him, “seemed the one most connected to [his] values.” 

In this role, Nolan meets with members of Parliament (MPs) to discuss challenges that students face. He’d first research potential ones to contact, then arrange meetings with those interested in hearing what he has to say. He’d bring to those meetings the list of asks he prepared through collaboration with other SA members and consultation with student and labour unions. These asks relate to policies on affordable transportation, student housing, international students’ tuition, and more. At those meetings, Nolan would push for his case and inquire about ways to support and accelerate the process.

A current priority for Nolan is to push for more student grant funding. Nolan says that the aim is to have it reach the 40% increase promised in 2019—at minimum. And this is more relevant now than ever. “[The] Canada Student Grant is going to be cut by 1.8 billion dollars this year,” says Nolan, “and they were more generous in the short term and doubled the grant that every student had access to. That was a temporary measure which is coming to an end, and the [funding] will fall back to the 2016 level.”

Towards a better future

Despite inflation, rising costs of housing and food, and other difficulties currently faced by students (being among the most vulnerable), Nolan believes that they should not lose hope:

“I would say as a message to people: don’t give in to hopelessness or nihilism. There are a lot of passionate people in British Columbia who are working really hard to make life better for students. Connect with them [because] some of them are the most awesome people in the world. And since we are in a democratic and beautiful country, we can make a difference.”

And that includes you—there are many ways to contribute to student advocacy. Nolan says, “One of the most impactful things that anybody can do is getting involved in politics: for example, joining policy and advocacy committee[s] at BCIT, sending an email out to [a] member of [P]arliament and those who make decisions federally and provincially, or elective members.”


Government of Canada, Statistics Canada. “Tuition Fees for Degree Programs, 2022/2023.” The Daily, September 7, 2022.

Shaker, Erica. “What to Know about Student Debt.”, August 15, 2022.

Yun, Tom. “Canada Student Grant Doubling to Remain in Effect for 2 More Years.” CTV News, July 31, 2021.