Students expect more support from B.C. gov’t

Steve Thomson must have had a different province…not B.C., where the average student debt at graduation is around $27,000.

To the editor:

Steve Thomson must have had a different province in mind while writing his MLA Report (Good News for Okanagan College) for the Friday, Jan. 25, edition of the Capital News. Certainly not B.C., where the average student debt at graduation is around $27,000 and the interest the government charges on that debt is the highest in Canada.

Perhaps Thomson was thinking of Newfoundland and Labrador, where student loans are interest free, and tuition has not only been frozen since 1999, but was actually rolled back 25 per cent in the mid-2000s.

I find it so interesting that we can’t even offer to our students such a simple thing as interest-free student loans.

The whole concept of going to school is to increase your own value, thereby increasing the GDP of the province and increasing the province’s tax revenue. So, when the average student gets out of school and does, hopefully, find a job, we’re paying so much in student loan interest and taxes on our increased paycheques that for the next five years, if not longer, we’ll likely be taking home less than if we didn’t go to school.

This is made even worse by the insane cost of living in Kelowna.

Thomson adds that government investments in post-secondary education will benefit local students and the economy.

He’s right. However, it’s not enough, and the long-term neglect of post-secondary education is being felt extremely hard as more and more students walk out into a recession with few jobs and few opportunities. In a society where post-secondary education is touted as a great equalizer, local students from average to low income families, without a strong support system, are finding it harder and harder to access the system.

It’s great that Steve is proud that Okanagan College business students are competitive at a national level; I’m proud of them too, and in fact I was one last year. Which I guess makes it hurt even more when I see someone like our MLA bragging about the hard work we do yet doing little to support us.

We expect more from our government when it comes to post-secondary education. Our province clearly has a lot of improving to do.

Trevor Martens,

campus chairperson,

OCSU Local 53,

Kelowna