press release

Students Disappointed in Provincial Budget

Vancouver, BC - Students in British Columbia are disappointed by the lack of relief to the financial burdens they face in their post-secondary career. “Today’s budget leaves students behind,” Sacha Fabry, Chairperson of the Alliance of BC Students (ABCS) stated. “B.C. is the only province that does not provide needs based grants, an even greater burden for students when combined with the fact that B.C. charges the highest interest rates on its student loans.”

 

The issues faced by students go beyond student debt. Student housing is in high demand throughout British Columbia, with long waitlists for residences at universities across the province. The provincial government will not allow most post-secondary institutions to build more student housing as this would be considered debt – despite the fact that student housing is self-financed through residence fees, and is not tax- payer supported. Each year, over ten thousand students are left on waitlists between UBC, SFU and UVic alone. “We frankly do not understand why universities aren’t allowed to build housing,” continued Fabry. “On campus student housing would open up the rental housing market for others, without costing the taxpayer.” On-campus housing has long been requested by students in British Columbia, and the provincial select committee on government services and finance recommended enabling universities to build more student residence spaces in 2016.

 

While tuition increases are capped at 2%, student wages are stagnant, housing is growing well beyond inflation, and post-secondary institutions are finding ways to levy additional fees on students beyond the tuition cap. Students continue to be saddled with debt throughout their education. Said Fabry: “In the end, we look at this budget as a lost opportunity for the government to help set British Columbia youth on the path to success.”

 

Students Look to Throne Speech for Housing Solutions

The Alliance of British Columbia Students will be watching the throne speech closely in hopes that students stretched budgets will see some relief. When asked, housing is regularly given as one of the primary struggles for students in British Columbia, and the ABCS would like to see the government take a proactive role to help students.

“Over the past few years we have been asking the government to enable Universities and College’s to build on-campus housing” said Sacha Fabry, ABCS Chairperson, “Putting students in on-campus housing is a no brainer. Right now, Universities are not allowed to take on debt to build housing, but we know that that is a self-financing debt, creating no cost to the Universities or the government, paid for by students housing fees. All we want is for the government to let universities build business plans and execute them.”

With over 10,000 students on housing waitlists in BC each year, and with most regional universities unable to even offer housing, the demand for on campus housing is likely more than enough to fill Rogers Arena. Building student housing on campus only requires the province’s blessing and encouragement, and could go a long way to easing the heavy demands for market rental housing and public transit to campus’s across BC, while enriching the University experience of those that attend.

Student housing fees, set below market rates, can fully finance the building of housing. UBC is in the process of completing payment on several housing buildings where the mortgages were fully funded through affordably priced student housing fees. With vacancy rates in some parts of BC below 1% and housing affordability a constant topic of conversation, the ABCS would like to see the province allow University’s to do their part, pulling students out of the housing market, and onto campus.

“It is evident that students would value housing, but more importantly, it would be good for everyone in the wider community” remarked Mr. Fabry.