Effective Jan. 1, 2015, the B.C. Liberal government has ceased paying tuition for adult upgrading students who are not considered low-income.
As a result, public post-secondary institutions may begin to charge fees for these programs.
According to the Ministry of Advanced Education, the decision to allow institutions to charge tuition for adult upgrading programs was necessary to “ensure sustainability” of post-secondary programs.
In 100 Mile House, The GROW Program principal Michael Franklin says fees will apply to basic education upgrades for some adult students due to the loss of funding.
GROW students in the current program have had about 70 per cent of program costs covered by provincial funding, he notes.
“After May 1, graduated adults who want to upgrade … will have to pay. It looks like it’s going to be about $280 a course.”
Low-income students will continue to receive full support through subsidies, and there will still be no cost for Dogwood graduation courses, he says.
Franklin adds he does not expect this fee change to affect enrolment much for the local program.
“We find that most of the people who come for upgrading are a different clientele; they tend to have the means to pay for it, generally, and we definitely have the means to help out those that don’t.”
The GROW Program currently operates 12 hours a week, but there is “some flexibility,” Franklin explains.
“As the number of students grows, we have the opportunity to add more hours, if it warrants it.”
While this is based on the currently funded 0.5 full-time equivalent (FTE) teacher hours after cutbacks happened last year, he notes the program is still accommodating 30-40 local students.
Franklin says learning supports are also available online from teachers in Williams Lake during regular school days, which is currently being utilized by only a few of its most senior math students.
The decrease in teacher funding since 2014 has made it only slightly more difficult for students to connect with GROW classes as they adjust to the tighter schedule, he adds.
“Enrolment has decreased a little bit, but not significantly. It is as successful as before.”
GROW offers all the core courses (geared toward the Dogwood diploma) to select from to give students the pre-requisites to move on to post-secondary education or the skills they need for the workforce, he notes.
Franklin says he expects to have more cross-enrolled students from Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School taking courses that are not available at their school, or that they missed.
Low-income or not, he encourages anyone interested to check with him before deciding if they can afford the programs.
For information, call Franklin at 250-398-5800.