Students have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Young workers make up about 30% of COVID-19 related job losses. Many other students, who depend on summer job employment to pay for their education in September, will not find employment this year. The effects of this pandemic on students and future students will be felt for years to come.
We are asking the Board of Governors to suspend all increases of tuition fees for the duration of the pandemic. Since the public health emergency was announced, students have been sharing their inability to afford basic necessities such as rent, food, and transportation. All of these students are facing the same challenges as regular British Columbians but have added stressors as they are also coping with an ever-changing learning environment. Though there have been some financial supports made available, many students are still falling through the cracks as they do not meet the eligibility requirements and even if they do, these financial aids are simply not enough to cover basic living expenses, let alone tuition fees.
For over 16 years, post-secondary education has been underfunded in this province. Many of these funding shortfalls have been made up by international tuition fees. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the weaknesses in our system.
As we have previously discussed, we believe that the international students’ tuition fee increases put forward in September 2019 were made in violation of the College and Institute Act. We once again implore the College to have all decisions about the implementation of fees, international or domestic to a vote of the Board of Governors. Any tuition fee that is planned for the fall that has not been brought to the Board of Governors as a decision note is illegitimate and we will take the necessary actions to ensure the democratic processes are respected.
The Students’ Union recognizes that due to chronic underfunding the College has had to lean heavily on international students to bridge the budget gaps. The fact of the matter is that International Students are not cash cows and deserve predictability and stability of tuition fees. Having fair and stable tuition fees year after year will allow international students to appropriately plan for the financial cost of their education.
Ensuring student success is a core value of VCC and any post-secondary institution. Students are calling on their inability to access education due to tuition increases, therefore, we implore you to recognize your responsibility, as stated in the 2020-21 Mandate Letter:
“… to act in the best interest of the institution and implement a student-centred international education framework that supports the success of domestic and international students”.
This call to action was sent as a letter to the Chair of the VCC Board of Governors.
Your Students’ Union Board of Directors