Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce News

Policy Resolution – SUPPORTING UNIVERSITIES FOR A STRONGER ECONOMY IN BC (2021)

Approved by Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce members at the March 14th Public Policy Debate

Issue

Universities are large economic engines located throughout British Columbia. Some of the greatest impacts to the economy include direct and indirect spending, employment, research initiatives and a knowledgeable workforce. For example, Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops is the fourth largest employer in the city, it contributes an estimated $355 million to the regional economy, adding intellectual and knowledge-based factors to the community. 

Background

The present allocation formula for block grant funding of BC’s post-secondary institutions is approximately 15 years old with the allocation structure generally static for 12 years. Despite a drastic increase in student enrollment across the province, and many other changes at universities throughout the years, there has been little to no change in funding allocation.

Increased student enrollment is only part of the issue cited with the present funding formula. The present formula is based on targeted enrollment and does not re-allocate total funds once actual enrollment figures are realized. Therefore, when a university targets below actual student enrollment, the university does not see an increase in funding. As such, the contrary is also true; if a university targets above actual realized student enrollment the university retains the initial funding amount.

Over a 15-year time span, a variety of changes have occurred within British Columbian universities, compromising outdated funding formulas. Highlighting a few for the purposes of this document: 

  • Mandates have changed, recognized through changes in the University Act. BC’s funding allocations do not take into account the diverse mandates of its many universities.
  • The need for individual student support services has become much more intensive especially for those universities who are designated as open access, directed to accept students without a cap on acceptance numbers.
  • Pedagogy has changed over the past 15 years to where blended classroom- learning and experiential learning is the accepted best practice; and
  • Enterprise management has become increasingly intensive with IT demands; safety concerns; environmental issues; government- imposed union bargaining mandates; intellectual property laws and a constant increase in provincial government reporting requirements.

The Province of BC launched a public post-secondary funding review in 2022 and engaged with many stakeholders, including the First Nations Leadership Council, Public post-secondary institutions, Sector Student Associations, Faculty Associations and Industry and Employer organizations. “The engagement, led by Don Wright, will provide a final report of key findings to government for consideration by summer 2023”[1], this report has not been released to stakeholders.

In February 2024, the BC Federation of Students penned a letter to the Provincial Government “to recognize the critical need to act urgently and intentionally address the root cause of what’s led to the exploitation of international students and the precarity of the post-secondary system’s current funding model.”[2] One of their 5 recommendations include, “3. Complete the Post-Secondary Funding Formula Review and determine gaps in government funding, in particular for regional colleges and universities. [which asks] Finalise and release the results of the first phase of Post-Secondary Funding Formula Review. In 2022, stakeholders, including nearly all of BC’s public institutions, students’ unions, faculty and staff unions and the Federation, participated in the sector-wide funding review to assist the government in developing “an updated, modern funding model for BC’s public post-secondary system.” This review is vital to developing a sustainable pathway forward.”[3]

The Chamber Recommends

That the Provincial Government:

  1. Finalise and release the results of the first phase of Post-Secondary Funding Formula Review

Submitted by: Kamloops & District Chamber of Commerce


[1] Province launches public post-secondary funding review | BC Gov News

[2] Open Letter to Premier Eby: 5 Calls to Action for Post-Secondary (wearebcstudents.ca)

[3] Open Letter to Premier Eby: 5 Calls to Action for Post-Secondary (wearebcstudents.ca)

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The Kamloops Chamber of Commerce is situated on the traditional and unceded lands of the Tk'emlups Te Secwepemc within Secwepemc'ulucw, the traditional territory of the Secwepemc people. We are honored to live and work and play on this land and acknowledge the complicated history and humbly move forward in a spirit of collaboration and gratitude.