NEW DEMOCRAT OFFICIAL OPPOSITION
Advanced Education Update
AFFORDABLE EDUCATION FOR B.C.
Ensuring access to advanced education must be a cornerstone of any economic growth and jobs plan for the province. This fall, New Democrats have been working to address rising student debt load and education affordability in a number of ways.
New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix and opposition critic for advanced education, youth and labour market development, Michelle Mungall, have been touring the province, urging the government to re-establish a $100 million needs-based student grant program. They have met with students, faculty, administrators and other sector professionals, on more than 20 campuses and at several conferences. Working together is critical for affordable and accessible post secondary education in B.C. Read more about it here.
STRENGTHENING B.C.’S REPUTATION FOR EXCELLENCE
As B.C. prepares to attract a greater number of international students, we need to ensure that we have a reputation of excellence in post secondary education. In November, MLA Michelle Mungall introduced the Private Career Training Institutions Amendment Act, a bill which strengthens student protections and ensures transparency in the government’s relationship to private post secondary institutions. Read more about the bill here.
IN THE LEGISLATURE
Student Aid Review
Students in British Columbia are saddled with the highest student loan interest rate in the country. They have been joined by faculty, staff and institutional presidents in calling on the Liberal government to improve financial assistance for post secondary students across Canada. When the government failed to produce a review of Student Aid that was promised for this fall, Michelle Mungall demanded answers in the legislature. You can view the exchanges here: Oct. 27, 2011 and Nov. 23, 2011.
Access to Skills Training
There is an increasing demand for skilled workers in B.C. Because current student loans aren’t set up to fund capital-intensive skills training programs, such as professional truck driver training, students can’t access the training they need to fill these jobs. Katrine Conroy, MLA for Kootenay West, and Michelle Mungall questioned the minister on why students who want to enrol in skills training programs not being given the supports they need to train for jobs that exist today. You can view this exchange here.
Adult Basic Education
Adult Basic Education is a first step for many people to access the post secondary education and literacy necessary for most jobs. Sadly, the ongoing funding freeze and recent cuts by the Liberal government have made it difficult for institutions to maintain these free courses to keep up with demand. Michelle Mungall questioned why the Liberals have been neglecting ABE. You can view the questions here.
Legislation – Bills 17 & 18
This fall, the Liberal government introduced two bills important to post secondary education. Bill 17 integrates federal and provincial student loan programs, simplifying student loan processes. While this does not address the top-of-mind issue for students when it comes to their loans, it is a step in the right direction that has been a long time coming. Bill 18, while making some positive changes, also contains sections that infringe on both the long-standing traditions of governance at universities and colleges as well as the democratic rights of students, staff and faculty. Michelle Mungall has written to the minister expressing these concerns and is working with stakeholders to ensure these unfair amendments are removed. The legislation is expected to be debated next spring.
To keep informed on issues and events in B.C. post-secondary education follow the #BCPSE hashtag on twitter and follow Michelle online: