Education Minister Rob Fleming, Advanced Education Minister Melanie Mark and Premier John Horgan at Camosun College on Tuesday with students who’ve benefited from English language learning in B.C. Travis Paterson/News Staff

NDP eliminate tuition for adult education, will end interest on student loans

Government says this will open door for tens of thousands of people to upgrade their skills and save money.

B.C. Premier John Horgan made one of his first major announcements from Saanich’s Camosun College on Tuesday, stating his government will eliminate tuition fees on adult basic education and English language learning programs.

The announcement reverses action taken by the B.C. Liberals in 2015, which allowed education institutions to charge up to $1,600 per semester for full-time studies for adult learners. In turn, enrolment dropped by almost 35 per cent between the 2013-14 and 2016-17 school years.

Adult students who’ve prepaid for basic education and English language courses for September will be refunded, Horgan said.

“New Canadians who want a head start improving their language skills, students getting ready for university, adult learners going back to school to upgrade their skills to improve their opportunities or just getting a high school diploma, adult basic education should be free for everyone, it should be a right,” Horgan said.

The cost to make basic education free again will be included in September’s budget.

The premier also confirmed NDP’s plan to end interest on student loans in B.C.

“We’re actually going to reduce the [interest on] borrowing for student loans to zero, interest free, as well as a completion grant for those who have finished their education,” said Horgan.

The grant will create an incentive to those who’ve built up a large student debt during studies, to knock off as much as $1,000 from their balance when they finish, he added.

Both announcements are welcome news for the B.C. Federation of Students which has been pressing years for these changes.

“Adults who want to go back to [high school] shouldn’t be charged for that,” said Simka Marshall, chairperson for the B.C. Federation of Students. “This is something we’ve been campaigning for, we’ve had 23 municipalities endorse our campaign calling for free adult education so this is a really welcome change.”

RELATED: University students fed up with rising tuition costs

“Our province can’t afford to lose students who are keen to learn or advance their skills training in the post-secondary sector because of financial barriers,” said Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark. “I’m proud we’re taking this action to expand opportunities for ABE and ELL students to thrive in the workforce and achieve academic success.”

Horgan also spoke to softwood lumber deal with the U.S. and to Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver’s disapproval of Horgan’s upcoming golf tournament in Victoria that costs $500 per entry.

“I have spoken to [Weaver about it],” Horgan said. “It’s not a closed event, and anyway the cost largely goes to paying the green fees. [Fleming] and I have hosted this for a decade, it’s not secret, it’s not cash-for-access, anyone can join.”


 

@ragnarhaagen
ragnar.haagen@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Theft from vehicles is up in PQB region

Vehicle theft is up to 60 counts already for 2018

Sarsiat, Trelawney retain open crown

For the second year in a row, the Parksville Qualicum Beach pairing… Continue reading

More artisans than ever at Nanoose Bay Art in Garden

9th annual event has raised more than $26K for charity, hopes to hit $30K

Parksville Qualicum Beach businesses donate for raffle basket

Proceeds going to Manna Homeless Society

VIDEO: Paddle unveiling at Ballenas on National Indigenous Peoples Day

The NEWS speaks with the carver from Qualicum First Nation

Rescued Oregon family simply unprepared for adventure, RCMP say

Agencies now helping the group of four get to their destination in Alaska

Large B.C. tree dies after possible poisoning

Police and District investigate after large chestnut tree’s rapid decline

Canucks release 2018-19 season schedule

Vancouver to face Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Oct. 3, for home opener

VIDEO: Luxury Home and Design Show opens with Italian flare

Event set to run Friday to Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver

Small new charge on BC Hydro bills goes toward new crisis fund

The new fund aims to help customers who find themselves in financial emergencies

UPDATED: Crown appeals B.C. polygamous leader’s acquittal in child bride case

James Oler had been charged with taking his underage daughter to the U.S. to marry her off

Fake cops ‘arrest’ woman, steal $6,000 in latest CRA scam

Vancouver police urge people not take calls from anyone saying they’re from the Canada Revenue Agency

Study shows increase in mountain bike tourism in B.C.

Numbers are up, way up, for bike-related visits to the province

Most Read