WE can probably all agree that educating young people is one of the most important investments a society can make to safeguard its long-term economic health. But as appealing as that argument is, you can't invest money you don't have.
Well, actually you can, but it's a habit our provincial government is trying to break.
Every one of B.C.'s college and university presidents recently signed a letter to Advanced Education Minister Naomi Yamamoto, reminding her that their schools' flat budgets have been eroded by inflation for seven years. Outright cuts are in the offing too, and that means whole programs will get tossed off our ivory towers in the coming years.
There are plenty of worthy causes for those scarce provincial tax dollars. Go ask a teacher or a nurse or a community care worker. So Yamamoto has a point when she says higher learning has to learn to do more with less. Having a university or college specialize, and having others close similar programs, is an interesting idea and worth looking into. But it should be a deliberate policy choice from the minister, not the unplanned consequences of funding shortfalls.
Specializing has pitfalls too, like forcing students to move to a different region to pursue their career. Some may not be willing or able to make the trip.
Once upon a time, a university degree wasn't just job training. It exposed students to a diverse, well rounded education and prepared them to be thoughtful citizens as well as productive workers. Is this ideal now simply too expensive?