Also read ‘BCIT Budget Notice‘ on the FSA blog.
Many ideas are being discussed around BCIT on the topic of raising more funds to balance our budget, given the fact that government funding for post-secondary education has been on a steady decline. Each time I hear a new proposal on how BCIT can make more money, my first reaction is a sense of relief and hope. Let’s face it…we need to deal with the budget. Infrastructure is past its expiry date, we are behind in technology, our space is too small, our wages are falling further and further behind, the campus isn’t as attractive or welcoming to students or the wider community as it could be. The list goes on regarding how BCIT could be so much more. So, yes, my first reaction is a sense of relief and hope when I hear discussions about our making more money.
However, after that initial reaction, I pause and think about the implications of what we are doing. Then comes the doubt. I believe in accessible education for everyone. I believe that every person should have the right to realize their potential. When government cuts continue in our education system, I begin to envision a future where, if you or your family can’t afford education, you will go without. I believe education shouldn’t be an option for only the wealthy, or an option that requires crippling loans or serious compromises to a family’s financial stability. Education should be a viable option for everyone.
At the BCIT 50th Gala, Adam Pion, Chair of the BCIT Board of Governors, talked about his experience as a student. He nearly left BCIT before graduating due to financial limitations. It was a very moving speech, and when I heard it I thought about the many students at BCIT dealing with financial worries, and the many who may need to cut their dreams short because of the cost of education. We probably all have heard of those, perhaps friends or neighbours, who don’t get to advance their education at all because of financial limitations.
I hear the side of the argument which states that management has no option but to deal with the shrinking government funding. I also see and hear from our members that they give more and do more in order to compensate for the fact that government support is declining. BCIT employees are extremely committed, and we care a lot. However, the other side of the argument is the fact that the more we do, the more we give, the more our provincial government thinks that their cost cutting is working, that it is making us more efficient. Conceivably, they will cut more and more, and, just like other countries, we will end up with minimal government funding for post-secondary education. Some institutions elsewhere are at the point where they are saying, “the very little government gives us is not worth the hassle of receiving those funds, so let’s become a privately funded school.”
It’s a double edged sword to contemplate increasing revenue and finding private sources of funding to solve the government funding crunch. I think all of us need to take the time to consider the long term view and what the long term results of our actions will be. More importantly, we must demand that our politicians do the same. We need to hold politicians accountable for developing long term education plans which will not cripple our education system at some future point or deny higher education – and the associated economic prosperity that comes with an educated populace – to our citizens. Find out what your party’s education vision is, and enter into a dialogue with them about it. If you don’t have a particular party affiliation at the moment, do the research to raise your awareness about various parties’ education policies. Most importantly, plan to vote and to make your voice heard during elections.
Your Faculty and Staff Association will do our part to make sure the parties know the impact their policies have on BCIT. In the end, we all care passionately about our education system and we all want to see a bright future for our students and our province.Leave a reply →