Minister’s “Tone it down” attitude doesn’t square with public’s priorities for post-secondary education
The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.
“If the Minister were tracking the same polling information that we are, I’m not sure he would be telling people to tone it down,” said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators. Oliver was referring to a letter sent by Advanced Education Minister John Yap to the Leader of the Official Opposition, Adrian Dix. In the letter Minister Yap takes issue with the criticisms of his government’s post-secondary education policies and asks Dix to direct his Advanced Education critic, Michelle Mungall, to “tone down her comments”.
“The Minister’s government has spent twelve years re-shaping post-secondary education policies in BC. Over that period tuition fees have skyrocketed, the average student graduates from an undergraduate degree program with a debt that’s now approaching $30,000, the looming shortage of critical skills—a problem that the BC Liberals were briefed on when they took office in 2001—continues to get worse despite BC Liberals’ radical overhaul of trades training programs, and the core investment by the provincial government in post-secondary institutions, the annual operating grant, has not kept pace with either enrolments or inflation. That’s the reality of BC’s post-secondary policies over the last twelve years,” Oliver stressed.
“Governments are assessed on their record and the current government’s record on post-secondary education leaves a lot to be desired,” Oliver noted. “What’s curious in all of this is that so much of what the BC Liberals have done is at odds with what voters in BC are looking to government to do. We have tracked public opinion on post-secondary issues for several years now and the consistent theme is that voters—by margins ranging from 65 to 75%—want the provincial government to invest more in our colleges, universities and institutes,” said Oliver. “Even more compelling is that almost two-thirds of British Columbians want to see greater investment in post-secondary education even if it means running a budget deficit to secure those investments,” Oliver added.
“Rather than “tone it down”, Minister Yap should be speaking out for post-secondary education in our province and working to convince his Cabinet colleagues that it’s time to change the policy direction of this government and invest more in affordable, accessible post-secondary education,” Oliver concluded.