“There are huge human and economic costs to shutting working adults out of higher education,” said Kathy Corrigan, New Democrat spokesperson for Advanced Education. “These are hard-working people who are trying to build a better life for themselves and their families. Why on earth would the Liberals try to hold them back?”
Amy Collins graduated from high school in PEI. She has overcome many challenges, including mental illness and a learning disability. Collins wants to be an electrician, and has upgraded her English, Physics, Biology and Chemistry at the Gathering Place in Vancouver. She wants to get started on Math 10 in September, but now has to find $1,600 to pay the new Liberal fees.
Walid Haouas is a landed immigrant from Tunisia. He wants to take Petroleum Engineering at BCIT, but since his Tunisian high school credits aren’t recognized, he also needs to upgrade. His income as a busboy is too high for him to qualify for a grant and he has to find $550 per high-school course before he evens applies for BCIT.
At Vancouver Community College, the new fees will impact thousands of students each year. These students are taking everything from basic literacy courses to college access courses. The cuts to Adult Basic Education have also forced the closure of the Vancouver School Board’s Downtown East Education Centre and the Hastings Education Centre, impacting 2,000 more students.
In his Campus 2020 report, former B.C. Liberal Attorney General Geoff Plant wrote “Failure to complete high school limits job and career options, and is often associated with poorer life outcomes, such as higher criminality, poorer health and a greater dependence on social services. It holds individuals back from realizing their potential; it holds back our collective economic and social progress.
“The public interest in eliminating barriers to participation in post-secondary education requires that no tuition be charged to any adult learner seeking to upgrade their education by completing high school courses,” wrote Plant.
In response, the Liberals removed all fees on ABE in 2007, until re-imposing them this year.