B.C. announces tuition freeze
By Sara Marett and Becky Somerville
Things just got a little colder for students in British Columbia and it has nothing to do with the temperature.
B.C. Premier Glen Clark announced a tuition freeze for all post-secondary institutions for the third consecutive year last Thursday. Yesterday, he put the icing on the cake by announcing $26 million in increased funding for universities and colleges.
"We did it because it makes sense, because the future of the province depends on it," said Jean Wolff, press secretary for Glen Clark. Wolff said the Premier recognized that universities and colleges have had some difficulties in the past few years when tuition levels have been frozen, but that their budgets will be increased this year to a level that will enable them to operate smoothly.
Although colleges and universities in B.C. do not yet know the exact increases to their operating grants from the government, Clark announced yesterday an increase in funding that will ensure the creation of 2,900 additional spots for students to attend a post-secondary educational institute in the province.
"The exact funding is hard to predict right now but we are hopeful we will get sufficient funds to compensate for a tuition freeze," said Paula Martin, manager of public affairs for the University of British Columbia. "A freeze does make post-secondary education more accessible for students and tuition fees are a smaller piece of the pie than funding from the government."
Martin explained there is also legislation in B.C. that prohibits raising other student fees to compensate for freezing tuition levels.
The fact that this is the third year in a row there has been a tuition freeze demonstrates this is not a short-term political ploy by the government but a true commitment to education, said Vivian Hoffmann, president of the Alma Mater Society at UBC.
She added an increase in funding from the government would definitely be necessary to compensate for the tuition freeze. "UBC has faced some difficulties when coping with reduced funding such as class size and loss of faculty."
Maura Parte, B.C. chair for the Canadian Federation of Students, said the two recent announcements are great news for students in B.C.. "We showed a strong level of support for a tuition freeze and will never stop fighting for it," she said.
Parte explained CFS presented a petition with over 12,000 signatures to Premier Clark calling for an extension of the tuition freeze they have had for the previous two years. "We are still looking to the federal and provincial government for increased funding and we would like to see a national system of grants for students."