Student Union chair 'applauds' decision by Selkirk to continue offering tuition-free adult basic education
The Executive chair of the Selkirk College Students’ Union Local 4 Matthew Jameson is pleased with the recent decision by the college not to follow through with the recent provincial government decision to charge tuition fees for all adult upgrading courses, including ESL (English as a Secondary Language).
Jameson “applauds” the decision by Selkirk College President Angus Graeme.
“I do applaud it,” the 25-year-old Jameson said when told of the college decision.
“Honestly, I’m a bit surprised,” adds Jameson, who is finishing up courses before starting studies toward a psychology degre.
“It was my understanding there was a bit of pressure to follow that line of other colleges. This is awesome and I applaud their decision.”
The provincial government announced last week that starting January 1, 2015, public post-secondary institutions would now be allowed to charge tuition fees for all adult upgrading courses
In 2008, the Ministry of Advanced Education provided $6.9 million in base funding to the public post-secondary system for tuition-free delivery of upgrading courses.
But in a media release, Selkirk College President Angus Graeme reassured current and prospective students that academic upgrading courses will continue to be free of charge for the next semester.
“Selkirk College has no plans to charge tuition for ABE in January,” Graeme said. “Our Board approved our tuition fees for the 2014-2015 academic year this past February through to July 2015.”
“Government’s decision to lift the tuition-free policy for ABE programming in BC will not change our plans for providing tuition-free ABE opportunities for learners at this time,” Graeme added.
“Until we receive a clear commitment that no reductions to our operating grants are planned by the province for ABE programming, we will also not be contemplating any changes to our programming or tuition charges.”
Jameson said Selkirk’s decision would continue to help adult students return to school for upgrading and to get started on their college education.
“It’s really going to help the (adult) numbers, first of all,” Jameson said. “With other colleges starting to charge, those students will come to Selkirk College and give the Selkirk a real good name.”
Jameson said students have been under attack by governments continuing to offset costs by increasing tuition fees and cutting student aid.
To fight these changes students created the “Squash The Squeeze” website to pressure the government.
Jameson said students from across the province are “Mail-Bombing” the BC education ministry with “Bah Humbug” Season’s Greeting cards protesting the squeeze on post secondary education.
“Education is a right and should not be a debt so we’re campaigning to promote better funding for post secondary education,” said Jameson.
In the release, Graeme said last week’s decision may have an impact on Selkirk College’s overall budget, but the college is currently working out the details of the extent changes will have to frontline delivery.
“Adult basic education and academic upgrading are an immensely important part of our programming at Selkirk College and provide the West Kootenay-Boundary region with a fundamental investment in the development of lifelong learners and a highly skilled and education regional workforce,” Graeme explained.
“In particular, ABE provides accessible educational opportunities for adult students in many communities throughout the region and from a broad range of socio-economic circumstances. For many students it represents a critical transition back into the education system.”
Jameson couldn’t agree more.
“Colleges require these as pre-requisites to get into programs and the people going into the ABE are often from the lower income bracket so charging $320 makes everything worse.”
Selkirk College offers ABE programming out of its Castlegar, Nelson, Trail, Kaslo, Nakusp and Grand Forks locations.
During the recent 2014 Fall semester, Selkirk College registered 457 students in ABE courses.