fbpx

CUFA BC: Our Take on Budget 2021

Created 20 April 2021 14:04

Vancouver, April 20, 2021 – The Confederation of University Faculty Associations of BC (CUFA BC) welcomes Budget 2021 “A Stronger BC, For Everyone” from BC Finance Minister Hon. Selina Robinson. This is the NDP government’s fourth full budget under Premier John Horgan, and focuses on recovery and resilience from the pandemic.

Through this budget, the government recognizes that “investing in post-secondary education and skills training opportunities are an important part of BC’s recovery” and has allocated $2,592,081 to Advanced Education and Skills Training, an increase over last year of about 9.55%. Educational institutions will receive a net total of $2,380,919 in funding plus capital funding to see through previously approved projects. 

“Today’s budget includes significant investment in the province and targets many of the vulnerable sectors most affected by the pandemic, including advanced education,” says CUFA BC President Dr. Daniel Laitsch. “With these supports from Government, BC’s post-secondary institutions can see themselves as key partners in driving the economic and social recovery toward a just recovery for everyone.”

Budget allocations for the Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training invest in training and re-training people to secure good paying jobs and strengthen BC’s labour force. Highlights include the following:

  • $96M over 3 years for new training spaces to continue to build a workforce to increase health sector capacity;
  • $32M in one-time funding to continue training initiated through the StrongerBC Economic Recovery Plan, including the following:
    • $17M to expand access and partner with the Indigenous Skills Training Program;
    • $5M to expand investments made in 2020/21 for micro-credential training, adding 30 new programs (in addition to the $4M announcement made in March 2021);
    • $6M to support work-integrated learning placements for nearly 3,000 students in BC post-secondary institutions, helping one of the hardest hit demographics gain meaningful employment;
    • $4M to continue short-term skills training programs for unemployed or under-employed people in training in high demand sectors (construction, technology, health care, child care);
  • $15M to expand the Innovator Skills Initiative program that provides up to $10K in funding to businesses to help hire up to 3,000 students who have completed certification or training; and
  • Finally, public post-secondary institutions will receive $498,391,000 toward capital expenses.

The provincial budget tabled today builds on supports over the past year for post-secondary institutions as they grapple with the repercussions of the pandemic. For instance, the announcement in February that permits institutional flexibility in budgeting over the next two years by allowing them to carry limited, pre-approved deficits has been a lifeline to post-secondary institutions.

The 2021 Budget Consultation report highlighted several recommendations made by CUFA BC that would see funding stability for institutions, graduate and undergraduate student financial supports, and targeted supports for research. See here for CUFA BC’s analysis.

Budget 2021 prioritizes quick turnaround programs for hyper-focused skills training (like micro-credentials) that fall under the Skills Training portfolio of AEST rather than more robust but time-intensive education of the Advanced Education portfolio. These short and granular programs further narrow the focus of education to areas such as technology, health care, construction, and child care. CUFA BC recently released a white paper on micro-credentials highlighting their pros and cons as they become integrated into advanced education programming.

“While some of the 2021 Budget Consultation recommendations are reflected in Budget 2021,” says Executive Director Annabree Fairweather, “there is missed opportunity for the kinds of support necessary for graduate-level education and research, two key engines within advanced education that will drive economic and social recovery.” 

Absent from today’s budget is any additional funding for the government’s graduate scholarship program, created in 2018 and an excellent resource to supporting students and faculty at BC’s research universities. The program primarily targets master’s and doctoral students in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and at $15 million dollars to date, this amount falls short of the NDP’s 2017 campaign promise for $50 million.

For further information or comment please contact CUFA BC Executive Director Annabree Fairweather at 604-367-5856 or executive.director@cufa.bc.ca.

  

CUFA BC represents over 5,500 faculty members, professional librarians, lecturers, instructors, and other academics at the five research-intensive universities in British Columbia, which include University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Victoria, Royal Roads University and University of Northern British Columbia.

CUFA BC celebrates fifty years of working closely with the member Faculty Associations at each institution. Our purposes are to support high-quality post-secondary education and research in British Columbia and to advocate for the interests of our members.