Saturday, February 24, 2018

Camosun deals with Adult Basic Education changes

September 29, 2015 by Rachael Grant, contributing writer

With the school year now in full swing, Camosun College campuses are back to being busy and lively. But for some students, particularly those looking to access Adult Basic Education (ABE), this September might be a bit different.

The Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) is expressing concern over recent changes to how students can access ABE.

“In December, the provincial government decided to add tuition fees to Adult Basic Education,” explains CCSS external executive Andrea Eggenberger, “and this change comes into effect officially at Camosun College this September.”

Camosun College dean of access Ian Humphries says that this decision is shifting how funding is dispersed.

“Recently, institutions have been given the okay by the ministry [of Advanced Education] to charge tuition,” he says, “and they have increased the thresholds for the [provincial government’s] Adult Upgrading grant, so they are trying to put the money into the hands of the students.”

Camosun’s Ian Humphries says the college is committed to keeping Adult Basic Education an option for all (photo by Jill Westby/Nexus).

However, Eggenberger feels that government funding won’t prove to be so comprehensive.

“The provincial government has created a grants system for students that is needs-based,” she says, “however, this program is very limited. You have to be living well below the poverty line in order to qualify for it. For those students that don’t qualify, Camosun has created a grant program called the CUB [Camosun upgrading bursary] grant. However, students are still slipping through the cracks.”

Humphries insists that Camosun has been, and continues to be, committed to keeping ABE programming an option for all students.

“It started with the board of governors making a pretty resounding declaration that we wanted to continue to support ABE and domestic ESL [English as a Second Language] students, and the administration ran with that, and that’s when we came up with the Camosun upgrading bursary, or CUB.”

Humphries says that the college is at about 80 percent of the enrolment rate of last year, but despite those numbers being down, he says the majority of Camosun students will qualify for funding.

“We estimate that at least 90 percent of our school of access students will qualify for an Adult Upgrading grant, or what we set up at Camosun, our upgrading bursary.”

Eggenberger insists that this programming is an essential part of what Camosun College offers. She says ABE is a “stepping stone to post-secondary education for many students,” and can be a life-changing experience for them, which she says can lead to better employment and more meaningful contributions to society.

And Humphries wants to stress that, although with these recent changes there is now “another layer a student would have to deal with,” Camosun College is “trying our best to make sure that every student is aware of the funding available. There are lots of students with lots of challenges, and it’s definitely a desire to support them as best we can.”

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