Minister responds to Cap News column

To the editor:

I agree with the conclusion Adrian Nieoczym reaches in his Nov. 18 column in the Kelowna Capital News—that making education accessible isn’t just about investing in buildings; it’s also about investing in people.

And that is where the column misses the mark. This government invests in both.

Since 2001, we’ve invested over $1.2 billion in providing state-of-the-art learning environments, including almost $20 million to expand the arts and sciences buildings at UBC Okanagan, as well as $23 million for the Centre for Learning for Okanagan College.

At the same time, we’ve provided $1.46 billion in student financial assistance to make education more affordable. This includes paying 100 per cent of the interest on students’ loans for up to 10 years while they are enrolled in full-time studies. We also offer debt management programs to help students with their payments, including loan reduction for those most in need, interest relief programs, and loan forgiveness programs.

According to Statistics Canada, B.C.’s average university tuition is close to the Canadian average, and lower than Alberta, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Students who choose a college education pay even less. As a result, fully half of B.C. students graduate without debt—and 90 per cent of those who have borrowed are making their payments on time.

I am proud of our record in making post-secondary education accessible to British Columbians, and of our most recent statistics that show a record number of people in this province are taking advantage of that by furthering their education.

Murray Coell,

Minister of Advanced Education

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