Adult basic education in focus at board meeting

Campus News

The public portion of the May 25 UVSS board meeting was mostly devoted to presentations by the B.C. chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS-BC) and CFUV, UVic’s campus community radio station.


Two representatives from CFS-BC, Simka Marshall and Amanda Aziz, sought UVSS support for a CFS-BC campaign to restore funding to B.C.’s adult basic education programs (ABE), which target those wishing to complete or upgrade their high school education (with the remainder looking to improve basic literacy skills). The group is seeking an endorsement and support from the UVSS by using the UVSS logo on its supporter’s page, forwarding press releases to media outlets, and showing support via social media. Marshall and Aziz said that different student and labour unions have endorsed their campaign, including the B.C. Teacher’s Federation and student unions from VIU, Camosun, and North Island College. UVSS Research and Communications Coordinator Ben Johnson was optimistic about the prospects, saying that there “could be a win” to restore ABE funding. In a later phone interview, Director of External Relations Kenya Rogers  said that the board will vote on whether to officially support the campaign at a June 8 meeting, but that the UVSS campaigns committee has recommended that the rest of the board support it.


In 2008, the province followed a recommendation to abolish tuition fees on all adult upgrading courses in a report called “Campus 2020 ”, which set the province’s goals for education. But in December 2014, the province announced a reduction in base ABE funding, which the Tyee reported would save the government about $9 million . The province will continue to fund those looking to earn their high school diploma, but those who already have one will be expected to pay for further upgrading. In December 2014, Minister of Education Peter Fassbender said  that “it is reasonable to expect adults who’ve already graduated to contribute to these costs.” However, the government’s own Campus 2020 report says that “in the vast majority of cases, an adult student taking an ABE course who has graduated from high school is upgrading for the purpose of qualifying for a program that will lead to a post-secondary certificate, diploma or degree.” While the government is offering grants to help low-income students cover these costs, CFS-BC argues that the income threshold for assistance, currently set at $23  647, is too low for many students to take advantage of it   . In response to lobbying efforts, the province agreed to extend $6.9 million  in ABE funding for one more year to allow post-secondary institutions time to adapt to the new model. 


Station manager Randy Gelling gave a presentation on CFUV’s history and role in the community to the UVSS board. Gelling discussed some future plans for the station, which could potentially include building a signal repeater in co-operation with CILS (Victoria’s francophone station) to improve FM reception in the Western Communities. The UVSS was to nominate a person to represent them on the CFUV board, but the decision was tabled until the next meeting, as Kenya Rogers had expressed interest but was not present.


The rest of the open meeting was devoted to filling committee vacancies. Former Director of External Relations Greg Atkinson nominated himself to serve as a member at large on Campaigns and Finance and Operations. Though there were some questions regarding whether it was a conflict of interest, it was determined that no one stood to benefit unfairly from allowing Atkinson to join, and his experience would be valuable to the board. He was nominated without objection. Other vacancies for SUB renovations, advocacy groups, and occupants committees were open for nominations, but as some advocacy groups and SUB occupants did not nominate representatives, many of the positions remained vacant.


The open portion of the meeting was bookended by two in camera sessions, the first of which lasted an hour and ended with audible applause.