TRUSU 'Fund the Future' organizers to meet with MLAs over funding shortfall

By James Peters
March 8, 2018 - 3:31pm

KAMLOOPS — Organizers of a campaign calling for equitable provincial funding for Thompson Rivers University will meet with MLAs Todd Stone and Peter Milobar tomorrow.

TRU Students' Union Vice-President External Cole Hickson says there is no set formula to determine how much funding a particular B.C. post-secondary institution is given, and that has resulted in TRU being left in the dust.

Hickson says TRUSU would like to see the government re-evaluate how it funds TRU, and establish a concrete formula for the entire province.

"We are the 20th out of 25 institutions in terms of actual per student funding in B.C. That relates to, in the past five years alone, being underfunded to the tune of $80 million when you compare it to the average post secondary education institution in British Columbia," said Hickson.

The Fund the Future campaign has presented its argument to dozens of local governments and organizations in an attempt to build a groundswell of support.

"How we're trying to get this addressed is by going to the provincial government with a bunch of momentum from both on and off campus community support to get the government to re-evaluate how our institution has grown in the last 13 years," said Hickson.

The impact of the underfunding is either in decreased services or increased costs, according to Hickson.

"We have graduate programs that are almost completely underfunded, so students have to take on the full burden of the cost. We have one of the most expensive law schools in the country. We have students services that haven't really grown in a substantial way in a very long time."

TRU has increased its focus on attracting international students in recent years, and Hickson says that's in no small part because of the money they bring.

"Unfortunately, we are seeing the commodification of international students at a rate I don't think has been seen before. Not only at TRU, but at a few other institutions around the province."

Hickson says he's optimistic the meeting with Milobar and Stone tomorrow will lead to changes.

"We're very hopeful that we can come out with something positive for this one."

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