In light of proposed changes to Adult Basic Education (ABE) programs from the provincial government, Selkirk College President Angus Graeme is reassuring current and prospective students that academic upgrading courses will continue to be free of charge for the next semester.
“Selkirk College has no plans to charge tuition for ABE in January,” Graeme says. “Our Board approved our tuition fees for the 2014-2015 academic year this past February through to July 2015. Government’s decision to lift the tuition-free policy for ABE programming in BC will not change our plans for providing tuition-free ABE opportunities for learners at this time. Until we receive a clear commitment that no reductions to our operating grants are planned by the province for ABE programming, we will also not be contemplating any changes to our programming or tuition charges.”
The provincial government announced last week that starting January 1, 2015, public post-secondary institutions will now be allowed to charge tuition fees for all adult upgrading courses, including ESL (English as a Secondary Language).
In 2008, the Ministry of Advanced Education provided $6.9 million in base funding to the public post-secondary system for tuition-free delivery of upgrading courses.
Last week’s decision may have an impact on Selkirk College’s overall budget, but Graeme says the college is currently working out the details of the extent changes will have to frontline delivery.
“Adult basic education and academic upgrading are an immensely important part of our programming at Selkirk College and provide the West Kootenay-Boundary region with a fundamental investment in the development of lifelong learners and a highly skilled and education regional workforce,” Graeme said.
“In particular, ABE provides accessible educational opportunities for adult students in many communities throughout the region and from a broad range of socio-economic circumstances. For many students it represents a critical transition back into the education system.”
Selkirk College offers ABE programming out of its Castlegar, Nelson, Trail, Kaslo, Nakusp and Grand Forks locations. For the Fall of 2014, Selkirk College registered 457 students in ABE courses.
Upgrading with Adult Basic Education courses provides a wide variety of options for learners in the West Kootenay-Boundary region. A large number of the students registered in ABE each year use their completed courses as a springboard into further educational opportunities.
“ABE programming is a primary source of qualified students who continue on to take our credit programs at a time when so many prepared workers are required in the economy,” says Graeme.