April 23, 2020
PRINCE GEORGE – As September’s new school year looms, BC’s newest and fastest-growing political party is calling for a major restructuring of provincial government funding for the province’s colleges and universities. “As anyone who has worked in the system knows,” stated party spokesperson Stuart Parker, a former lecturer at Simon Fraser University, “BC’s colleges and universities are heavily dependent on two problematic forms of funding: real estate investment and speculation and charging exorbitant ‘foreign student’ fees, in which non-Canadians are charged 300-400% higher fees than local students.”
“For many years, BC’s hot real estate market and foreign student enrollment have replaced the funds cut from the postsecondary system in a succession of Liberal and NDP governments since 1994. Universities and colleges have ended up with real estate development divisions that have prioritized profit over affordable student housing. And we have become part of a global race to the bottom whereby Anglo American universities send ‘ropers,’ commission salespeople to Africa, Asia and Latin America to sell enrollments in our institutions and receive commissions from the public purse. For a long time, this system has been irresponsibly and unsustainably corrupt,” Parker continued.
“But now, in the fact of the global pandemic, we cannot rely either on indefinitely inflating property prices or massive enrollment from the Global South. We need to replace the funding that has been stripped away so that our colleges and universities fund the education of local students with local tax dollars. And we need this new system in the long term, with a cap on international enrollment and strict rules prohibiting property development, gentrification and commission sales that take place at the expense of our students. This is a likely funding crisis but it is also an opportunity to create an equitable, fair postsecondary system and to begin the financial restructuring to end tuition fees.”
The BC Ecosocialist Party is not participating in what appears to be a three-party consensus to shut down provincial politics during the global pandemic. The party remains committed to engaging in debate and offering solutions to BC’s pressing problems.