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.”