Students deserve an education not debt.

The RISE UP campaign, created by the British Columbia Federation of Students, aims to amplify the voices of students in the fight for fair and affordable education.

High tuition fees, including the unfair, overreliance on international students, to fund BC’s public post-secondary institutions has created a student debt crisis that must be addressed.

It is up to us to fight for a reduction in tuition fees, the regulation of international tuition fee increases and more financial aid. This is all possible if the government steps up to provide adequate funding for the post-secondary system.

This is all possible if students take action together.


For several decades the government has steadily divested from funding post-secondary education, causing institutions to rely on students to make up the funding gap in the form of ever-increasing tuition fees. Instead of fighting alongside students for increased public funding, institutions opt to increase tuition fees, and rely heavily on international student tuition fee increases – which remain unregulated in BC – as a short-sighted “quick fix” to balance their budgets. As education costs have increased far beyond inflation and as real incomes have declined, more and more students require financial assistance, and student debt has ballooned to now historic highs.It is up to us to fight for a reduction in tuition fees, the regulation of international tuition fee increases and more financial aid. This is all possible if the government steps up to provide adequate funding for the post-secondary system. This is possible if students collectively call for change.

We are calling on the BC Government to:

  • Increase funding for institutions, with an investment of $500 million annually, and secure a progressive funding model that provides stability and accounts for inflation; and immediately freeze, and progressively reduce tuition and other user fees.

  • Amend the Tuition Fee Limit Policy to cap international tuition fee increases at 2% annually.

  • Increase funding to the BC Access Grant, with an investment of $100 million annually

The Issues:


For more than two decades, the proportion of government funding to BC’s public post-secondary institutions has declined, while tuition fees have increased to make up for these funding gaps. In 2000, the provincial government provided 68% of the total operating revenue to public post-sec


ondary institutions in British Columbia and now only provides 40% of the total operating revenue.

Today, our province’s post-secondary system is in the midst of a funding crisis, with the cost of obtaining an education being unfairly downloaded on students and their families. British Columbians and those who study in our province can no longer be expected to pay the price for years of inconsistent funding.

Tuition Fees are too Damn High

Tuition fees for domestic students have increased by 32% for undergraduates and 78% for graduate students since 2006. Before the deregulation in 2001, average undergraduate fees were $2,527, and by the time the Tuition Fee Limit policy came into place, fees were $4,753. As of 2022, average undergraduate fees have reached $6256 annually.

Government underfunding has also dramatically impacted international student tuition fees – which remain unregulated and were not included in the government’s introduction of the Tuition Fee Limit policy. In BC, international students paid the same amount as domestic students until 1985. But the significant skyrocketing began with the deregulation of fees in 2002. At that time, international students’ fees were 266% higher than domestic students’ fees, and since then, international fees have gone up 182% more. As of 2022, international students pay 528% more than domestic students.



International fees are entirely unregulated in BC, meaning institutions can increase tuition at any time by any amount. The lack of regulati

on creates an inability for international students to adequately budget for their education.

These increases happen to cover the institution from any shortfalls they are having from stagnant government funding and domestic student tuition fees.

For example, in December 2022, Emily Carr University of Art and Design announced a 30% increase in tuition fees for incoming

international students and a 10% increase for current international students. When questioned in the media about the massive increase, the university responded that due to the University Act, there was a requirement to table a balance budget: “The tuition increase is required for the university to continue providing a quality education for students today and into the future”.  This sadly happens across the province, in fact, we have heard institutional administrators even refer to international students as “revenue generating units”.

Paying More than Their Fair Share

The disparity between fees paid by international and domestic students is huge: while international students make up approximately 20% of overall enrolment in BC universities, their fees make up 48% of tuition fee revenues.

International students pay more tuition fees than all domestic students combined at ten of the twelve BC institutions we reviewed. At 3 of the 12 universities looked at, tuition fees (domestic and international) made up more of the institution’s revenue than the operating grant provided by the province.

The Economic Benefit of International Students in Canada

Regulating international student fees is not just about keeping education affordable for all students, but also about recognizing the richness international students bring to our campuses and surrounding communities.

These students pay vast sums into the local economies across BC on such staples as housing, food, transportation, and entertainment. Fairness and predictability for international students is necessary to ensure BC remains a desirable destination to study for students from around the world and to create equity for all learners studying in the province.


Students are not only struggling to pay their tuition fees but are also facing huge challenges finding affordable housing and covering the costs of groceries, gas and other costs associated with day-to-day life. The 2023 BC budget introduced the doubling of student loan maximums and increased the income level required for repayment to begin, but allowing a student to take on more debt is not a solution to the ongoing affordability crisis students are facing.

Saddling students with more and more debt is having lasting negative impacts on our communities and province. Graduates are being held back by their student debt; they are struggling to relocate for work opportunities, purchase a home or other large items like a car, and are delaying major life events like starting a family.

The BC government must act now by lowering tuition fees and providing more funding to the BC Access Grant to ensure post-secondary remains accessible to those from low- and middle-income backgrounds.

Student Debt in Canada is Growing

Student loan debt is a huge problem in Canada; nearly half of all students graduate university in debt. As of July 2022, the total amount of student loan debt owed to the federal government, by more than 1.9 million Canadians, was $23.5 billion – which only increases further when you include provincial loans and private debt. The average student is graduating with almost $29,000 in debt.  

As education costs have increased far beyond inflation and as real incomes have declined, more and more students require financial assistance, and student debt has ballooned to now historic highs.


Let's RISE UP for affordable and accessible education for all learners in BC. Email the Premier and the Minister of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills.

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We can make a difference.

Getting our education should not and does not have to be this hard. It is possible to reduce fees and student debt if the BC government prioritizes investing more in the post-secondary system.

Together, we can rise up and make that happen.
Join our campaign. Together we can put pressure on decision-makers and force them to make students a priority. Students have influenced many successful policy changes over the years including the elimination of interest on student loans and the creation of the BC Access grant; when we stand together our voices are impactful.

It’s time for the next victory. It’s time to reduce tuition fees for all learners in BC.

The BC Federation of students is calling on the BC government to:
- invest $500 million, annually, into the province’s public post-secondary education system; and progressively reduce tuition fees
- immediately regulate and cap annual international tuition fee increases at 2% by including them in the Tuition Fee Limit policy
- increase funding to the BC Access Grant

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