The Liberals answered back to accusations by NDP leader Adrian Dix that the government is underfunding higher education, and that students are fearful they may not be able to complete their education due to the cost.
Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto called Dix’s attack on the financial burden of higher education “fear mongering.”
“We have made, in the last 10 years, the largest investment in post secondary education,” said Yamamoto. “There are 32,000 more students in the system now, and we had opened seven new universities.”
The increased number of universities and campuses have allowed students to pursue education closer to home, easing the financial strain said Yamamoto.
“What I think some people don’t realize, is that two thirds of a student’s education is payed by the taxpayer. Tuition only covers 1/3 of the cost,” she said, adding that students should look at their education as an investment, one that will pay off.
Yamamoto went on to say that 3/4 of jobs in the future will require some level of post-secondary education, and a person with such education will earn, on average, $650,000 more in their lifetime. It is expected that 1 million jobs will open up by 2019, and a shortage of skilled workers such as engineers and scientists could be a problem. That is why education is so important to the Liberal government, and to the province.
“It is such an important investment, and it’s not just an investment for students, but for the taxpayers as well. And we know that there is a great return on that investment,” said Yamamoto.
That is why she worries that accusations from the NDP about the accessibility of education could be damaging.
B.C. has the fourth lowest tuition for undergraduate students, and the government hands out 730 million in loans and grants every year.
“We don’t want to discourage students from entering post-secondary education,” she said.