Okanagan students say post secondary education needs funding

A visit from NDP advanced education deputy critic yields cry for money.

  • Mar. 15, 2011 10:00 a.m.

NDP MLA Michelle Mungall

Students from both the Okanagan College and UBCO Okanagan student unions teamed up to question the deputy NDP advanced education critic, Michelle Mungall, on her take of post-secondary funding policies this week.

Mungall hit the UBCO campus at 4 p.m. Monday, just hours after the new B.C. Premier Christy Clark was sworn in and named her cabinet.

For the roughly 20 students who turned out to mingle with the young politician, however, the change in politics seemed to be semantics when compared with the changes needed in policy.

“The big issue right now for colleges is that colleges, unlike universities, are not funded at the rate of inflation,” said Cory Nelmes, with the Okanagan College Student Union.

“So the students at colleges are constantly forced to take on that burden with tuition increases.”

Okanagan College is the most expensive college in the province, with fees that currently rest $450 above average.

Nelmes said addressing the core funding needs of the institution could have a drastic impact on reducing this burden for students. “It’s a big game of musical chairs,” she said.

“Every year the college’s costs go up, just like anybody else’s costs go up, but they can’t run a deficit and (the government) takes back any surplus at the end of the budget year.

“So it’s digging a hole for the colleges.”

While Nelmes said she realizes students don’t pay the bulk of the institution’s costs, their tuition fees are one of the only ways OC can access funding increases.

So the gap between what it costs to run the school and the funds the institution has to pay the bills lands squarely at the student body’s front door.

“Any solution needs to be a sustainable solution,” she said.

“If it’s not sustainable, we suffer things like program cuts and faculty cuts and that’s a disservice to students in a whole other way.”

For his part, UBCO Student Union financial coordinator Grayson Lepp said he was there more to suss out the climate around the various NDP leadership candidate’s promises on advanced education and how feasibly those messages resonate with the critic.

“A lot of potential NDP leadership candidates have announced that they will be having some kind of post-secondary education plan,” he said.

“We wanted to see what her take is on that and the feasibility of having any plan come forth right now.”

Lepp said he was particularly interested in a commitment made by NDP leadership candidate Adrian Dix to infuse the grant system with a $100-million funding boost. He also wanted to talk about schemes to eliminate interest rates on government student loans.

Mungall serves as deputy critic for advanced education and labour market development in the NDP shadow cabinet.

She did not offer a speech to open the event, preferring instead to simply listen and respond to questions the students raised. “She contacted us because she wanted to meet with a nonpartisan group and just get our take on post-secondary education,” said Lepp.




Just Posted

UPDATED: Heavy rain causes flooding in the Central Okanagan

Portion of lower Glenrosa Road closed due to flooding

Protect the Water rally today in Kelowna

The rally will be held at No. 102 – 1420 St Paul Street, Kelowna.

Feature Friday: Is the sky the limit for downtown Kelowna construction?

City building up, not out, as high rise living becomes more popular

Free theatre performance for Lake Country families

Robinson Crusoe + Friday will be performed at Creekside Theatre April 14

Wild weather leads to power outages

Thousands woke up in the dark this morning, as Fortis crews scrambled to get power up and running.

Jury finds Chad Alphonse guilty of manslaughter in murder trial

Kelowna jury delivers its verdict a day after starting its deliberations.

BREAKING: B.C. mother hit in truck rampage dies

Family confirms mother of four Kelly Sandoval dies almost two months after being hit.

UPDATED: MPs Elizabeth May, Kennedy Stewart arrested at B.C. anti-pipeline protest

The demonstration is part of a day of action against the Trans Mountain expansion

Armstrong declares State of Emergency

Residents whose homes are impacted by the flooding should call City Hall 250-546-3023

Flooding leads to Pioneer Square evacuation in Armstrong

Armstrong assisted living facility has water in basement; nine suites evacuated

PHOTOS: Students exhibit stunning paper couture dresses

22 paper made gowns will be on display at Vancouver’s Oakridge Centre until March 27

BCHL Today: Prince George avoids elimination with game five win

BCHL Today is a (near) daily look at what’s going on around the league and the junior A world.

Suspect arrested and charged for assault on autistic man

Parmvir Chahil has strong B.C. ties; two others charged with accessory after the fact

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read