Thompson Rivers University Students’ Union representatives Leif Douglass (left) and Cole Hickson told Williams Lake City Council Tuesday that TRU is underfunded per student compared to other educational institutions. Monica Lamb-Yorski photo

TRU underfunded students’ union says

TRU Students’ Union received support from city council in asking the provincial government to re-evaluate how it funds the university

Thompson Rivers University has been underfunded for a more than a decade, representatives from TRU Students’ Union told Williams Lake city council Tuesday.

Cole Hickson grew up in Kamloops and is presently studying political science and economics at TRU. He said in the past five years alone, TRU has been underfunded “to the tune of $80 million.”

“TRU students pay nearly half of the revenue source for the institution whereas students at UNBC in Prince George pay less than a quarter,” Hickson said as he showed a slide to council.

Leif Douglass, originally from Lilloett, has completed a Bachelor of Arts at TRU and presently works for the students’ union.

He told council TRU receives a $64 million-block grant from the provincial government.

The government determines how many students should be served with that amount of money, he added.

Showing a slide depicting funding levels for every educational institution in B.C., Douglass said TRU receives about $7,800 per student while the average is $9,000 per student.

“You can see we are significantly below other places,” he said. “When you look at actual per student funding, TRU served more students than it was targeted for so we actually moved from being 16th to 20th in actual funding per student.”

Here Douglass and Hickson speak with Williams Lake city council.

When Douglass and Hickson asked council for a letter of support for the students’ union’s request that the provincial government re-evaluate how it funds TRU, council unanimously agreed to support it.

The student union does not represent students at the Williams Lake campus, Douglass said, noting it is difficult because of the distance between the two campuses.

However, he said the funding formula does impact both campuses, and the presentation to city council Tuesday was part of a campaign Douglass and Hickson began last spring.

So far 3,500 students and staff have signed a petition calling on the government to re-evaluate its funding formula for TRU.

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