Seventy nine per cent of Surrey residents want province to reduce cost of post-secondary education

Strategic Research poll says 79 per cent want this and 77 per cent want the province to invest more in post-secondary education.

Artist's rendering of part of Kwantlen Polytechnic University's expansion slated for Surrey City Centre.

Artist's rendering of part of Kwantlen Polytechnic University's expansion slated for Surrey City Centre.

SURREY — A large majority of Surrey residents want the provincial government to take “immediate action” to reduce the cost of post-secondary education.

A Strategic Research poll found that 79 per cent of Surrey residents want this, and 77 per cent want the province to invest more in post-secondary education.

The results are based on an automated phone survey of 618 adults in the ridings of Surrey-Fleetwood, Surrey-Guildford, Surrey-Panorama, and Delta North conducted Feb. 1-4, with a margin of error of +/- 3.93 per cent 19 times out of 20.

The poll was sponsored by the Federation of Post-Secondary Educators of BC, which represents 10,000 faculty and staff members at B.C. universities and colleges. the federation says tuition revenues are $1.2 billion more now than in 2002, making for an increase of nearly 370 per cent at the same time the the B.C. Liberal government cut funding by 20 per cent.

“Higher tuition translates into students taking on more debt, and that makes it harder for many people in Surrey to access the programs they need to succeed,” said Bob Davis, president of the Kwantlen Faculty Association at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “When it comes time to begin their careers, students are saddled with that will be decades of debt to repay. The B.C. government is failing students and their families.”

Davis noted that today tuition accounts for 41.2 per cent of KPU’s operating budget compared to 25 per cent in 2002. “In theory, the government caps tuition increases to two per cent per year; however, there are creative ways around that, so there isn’t much protection afforded to students.”

Some ways to help lower the cost of post-secondary education are interest-free student lows, lowering tuition and making more grants more available to middle-income and lower-income families.

Meantime, the provincial government’s 2024 Labour Market Outlook indicates that eight in every 10 job openings in B.C. by 2024 are expected to require post-secondary education.

“It’s time to put more money back into the pockets of students and their families,” Davis said. “It’s time to invest in post-secondary education.”

tom.zytaruk@thenownewspaper.com