President’s Letters & News

Open Letter-Our Vision for a Post-Secondary Education System

by | Apr 13, 2024 | PRESIDENT’S LETTERS

Tuesday, February 13, 2024 – signatories updated February 21, 2024

Honourable David Eby, K.C.
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, BC
V8V 1X4

We Can Do Better for Students: Our Vision for a Post-Secondary Education System that Delivers for Students and Communities in BC


Dear Premier Eby and the Government of BC,

We write on behalf of more than 32 students’ unions, faculty associations, labour unions, healthcare and community organisations who collectively represent more than 837,500 British Columbians.

We call on the BC government to recognize the critical need to act urgently and intentionally to 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. Decades of government underfunding has created an overreliance on international student tuition fees and a situation where we now find our post-secondary system on the brink of failure following the federal government’s announcement of a two-year cap on international study permits.

But it doesn’t need to fail. We have the opportunity to choose a path forward that will advance a shared vision of post-secondary education in BC that will deliver for students, institutions, BC’s communities, the province’s economy, the healthcare sector and the labour market.

We have a world-class public post-secondary education system that should reward hard work, engage students in transformative learning experiences, and develop the skills and passions of tomorrow’s workers. Our post- secondary system should be a tool to create a flexible, adaptable workforce, a tool to lift individuals and families out of poverty, a tool to work towards reconciliation with our Indigenous communities, a tool to increase equity, diversity and inclusion, and a tool that supports the prosperity of our local communities.

A world-class public post-secondary education system should not involve the exploitation of international students nor constantly assess the need to cut services to balance an institutional budget. With consistent, stable, and predictable funding for BC’s public post-secondary institutions, the financial predation on students, both international and domestic, will no longer be seen as necessary for an institution’s survival.

If we continue to treat public post-secondary as a business, institutions will continue to feel pressure to make decisions based on the finances needed to maintain their operations. Instead, investing in institutions will allow them to deliver high-quality programming that aligns with the needs of the labour market and to offer wrap- around support to students. Public education has and should always be about more than generating revenue – its focus must remain on creating a better tomorrow for all of us.

We are currently at a critical crossroads. Our dependency on international fees and lack of funding for post- secondary education has led us to a point where band-aid solutions are no longer enough. We need to fund our post-secondary system and shield current and future students from the consequences of systemic underfunding.

We call on the provincial government to make a commitment to our shared vision for students, institutions, and our communities and to immediately undertake the following actions:

1. Cap international student tuition fee increases at 2% annually.

Amend the Tuition Fee Limit Policy to include the regulation of fee increases for international students capped at 2% annually, to protect international students from being used as a tool to balance institutional budgets and to address the overreliance on these fees as a source of institutional revenue.

2. Release a plan on how international study permits will be distributed to institutions in BC.

Immediately release a plan to provide transparency to students and institutions on how international study permits will be distributed in BC, and that considers the impacts on institutions and their communities.

3. Complete the Post-Secondary Funding Formula Review and determine gaps in government funding, in particular for regional colleges and universities.

Finalise and release the results of the first phase of the 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.

4. Develop a funding model that provides long-term financial stability for institutions, delivers quality education and services for students, and does not rely on student tuition fees as the main source of funding.

Recommit to and prioritize the development of a funding model that “fairly and impartially distributes provincial financial resources across the public post-secondary sector”, “aligns provincial funding with the education and skills training needs of BC and the communities served by the 25 public post-secondary institutions”, and “supports student success by ensuring access to affordable, high-quality post-secondary education and expanding key student supports.”

5. Invest in BC’s public post-secondary institutions to ensure post-secondary education is affordable and accessible and that the province is able to produce the skilled workers needed in the labour force.

Increase annual funding to the sector to return the provincial government as the main source of funding for BC’s public post-secondary institutions, to make up for anticipated losses in institutional revenue as a result of the international study permit cap and to meet the labour needs of critical sectors such as health care workers, early childcare education workers and skilled tradespeople. 

The quality of our education and further cuts to services are at risk when reduced tuition fee revenue impacts institutions’ budgets. Students are concerned about which parts of their education experience will be deemed not essential, how much international tuition fees will rise and how much more they will have to give up to fill the funding gaps.

We applaud your government for announcing new measures, including fee transparency on international tuition fees, on January 29 and taking the first step to stop the exploitation faced by international students at post- secondary institutions. With past actions like introducing the BC Access Grant and eliminating interest charged on student loans, your government has shown that students, stakeholders, and advocates can count on our voices being heard.

We are again counting on the government to listen and take steps to address the systemic underfunding of the post-secondary sector and put an end to the unfair tuition fee increases experienced by international students, who already pay 4 to 5 times more than their domestic peers in British Columbia. Your government is dedicated to building a stronger BC, but without post-secondary education, more people will get left behind.

British Columbia has the opportunity to become a leader and demonstrate the benefit to our economy, communities, workforce and students, and show that systemic change is within reach when we reimagine what’s possible in the public post-secondary education sector.

Premier Eby, this is a formal invitation to join our fight for a more affordable, accessible post-secondary education system and demonstrate that your government is committed to the future of British Columbians by implementing the 5 actions set out in this letter. We are counting on you. Will you join us?


Signatory Information:

Post-Secondary Education
British Columbia Federation of Students

Camosun College Student Society 
Coast Mountain Students’ Union

College of New Caledonia Students’ Union 
Douglas Students’ Union

Emily Carr Students’ Union 
Justice Institute Students’ Union

Northern British Columbia Graduate Students’ Society 
North Island Students’ Union

Okanagan College Students’ Union 
Selkirk College Students’ Union 
Students’ Union Okanagan of UBC

Students’ Union of Vancouver Community College 
Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union 
University of Victoria Students’ Society

Vancouver Island University Students’ Union
College of the Rockies Faculty Association 
Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC 
Emily Carr University Faculty Association

Federation of Post-Secondary Educators 
Langara Faculty Association

Thompson Rivers University Faculty Association 
Vancouver Community College Faculty Association

Community Organisations
BC Centre for Women in the Trades 
BC Health Coalition

BC Poverty Reduction Coalition 
Centre For Family Equity

Labour Unions
CMAW Local 1735

CUPE 2396
UFCW 1518
Vancouver & District Labour Council


Honourable Brenda Bailey, Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills Honourable Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care
Honourable Katrine Conroy, Minister of Finance Honourable Adrian Dix, Minister of Health
Honourable Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Housing
Honourable Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Honourable Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour
Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Honourable Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction