New poll shows British Columbians feel post-secondary education is in need of more support

Chronic underfunding by the Provincial Government and skyrocketing tuition fees block access, say students and instructors

"It may be back-to-school week for thousands of post-secondary students, but this latest poll suggests it should be back to the drawing board for the BC Liberals' post-secondary education policies," said Cindy Oliver, President of the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators (FPSE), a union representing over 10,000 faculty and staff in BC's colleges, universities and institutes. Oliver was commenting on poll results that FPSE and the Canadian Federation of Students released today in Vancouver. The poll was conducted in July of 2006 by Ipsos Reid on behalf of FPSE.

"The BC Liberals made sweeping changes in post-secondary education after they took office in 2001. They allowed tuition fees to skyrocket and they made massive cuts to student financial aid. Their funding of public post-secondary institutions is not even covering rising inflation or providing better course options," Oliver added. "Five years after those changes were put in place, we believe the public has lost confidence in those policies. This poll shows about two-thirds of British Columbians think tuitions are too high. Slightly more-70%-think that high tuitions are preventing young people from getting the post-secondary education they need to get ahead," Oliver noted.

"Studies show that tuition fees are the most significant barrier to post-secondary education; in that light, it is alarming that the BC government has increased tuition fees by $18 million this year," said Shamus Reid, BC spokesperson for the Canadian Federation of Students. "This opinion poll demonstrates that British Columbians support reducing tuition fees and increasing government funding for colleges and universities."

The Canadian Federation of Students is calling on the BC government to provide funding to reduce tuition fees by 10% in 2007-2008, and a further 10% in 2008-2009.

"We must take action now to reduce the massive debt burden that is being placed on the youth of this province," said Shamus Reid.

"This poll should be a wake-up call to the provincial government," said Oliver. "A strong majority of British Columbians think that it's time to make post-secondary education a priority in this province. About 90% agree that one of the best ways to solve the current skills shortage is for the provincial government to invest more in public colleges, universities and training institutes," Oliver noted.

"That's a sensible first step towards fixing the mess they have created, but the Premier and his Cabinet will need to change their priorities. BC is a prosperous province that can well afford to invest more in post-secondary education," she added. "The government has opted for policy and funding changes that simply have not met the basic needs of post-secondary students or institutions. It's time to turn the page and make post-secondary education affordable and accessible to all," Oliver concluded.

The poll results are based on 800 telephone interviews with British Columbians 18 years and older from the BC Reid Express omnibus survey. Interviews were conducted between July 6th and July 11th, 2006 with residents throughout the province. The final data are statistically weighted to reflect the actual age and gender of BC's population and are balanced by region. With a provincial sample of 800, the overall results have a 95% certainty within plus/minus 3.5 percentage points. For additional information on the polling methodology contact Rhys Gibb at Ipsos Reid (604) 257-3200.

Click here to get a summary of the poll results

Click here to get the full text of the poll results

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For more information contact
Phillip Legg
Staff Representative, Communications and Policy
Federation of Post Secondary Educators of BC
(604) 788-2877
plegg@fpse.ca

About FPSE

The Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC is the provincial voice for faculty and staff in BC teaching universities, colleges and institutes, and in private sector institutions. FPSE member locals, represented by Presidents' Council and the Executive, represent over 10,000 faculty and staff at 18 public and 12 private sector institutions.