Access to post-secondary institutions south of the Fraser River is lacking and it's time for a change, according to the Surrey Board of Trade (SBoT).
That was the summary of a report filed by the SBoT Post-Secondary Funding Advocacy Paper last week, calling on the provincial government to seriously look at increasing its funding of postsecondary opportunities in Surrey and the surrounding area.
The two key institutions named in the paper are Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Simon Fraser University, both of which have campuses in Surrey.
With both schools pretty much at capacity in their current locations, SBoT is urging the provincial government to make some legitimate movement when it comes to expanding post-secondary opportunities in the region.
"The funding formula, the way that it's set up by the B.C. government, both SFU and Kwantlen are unable to open up anymore classes or programs because of the funding they receive from the province, and yet, the need is there," said SBoT CEO Anita Huberman.
According to Huberman, SBoT is getting involved out of a desire to secure Surrey's economic future by ensuring that residents are able to grow up, get educated and work, all in their home city.
"We're focusing on the existing needs of our businesses. We're taking a look at the educated people who will fill the jobs of today and tomorrow, so that's not only university degrees but also trades-related careers," said Huberman.
"A third of the population in Surrey is under the age of 19 and when you see that 1,200 people are moving to Surrey a month, mostly an immigrant population, statistics show they have to go elsewhere to get a post-secondary education.
"So this is important to business because they want to make sure people can live here and work here and make sure our businesses are housed with the best workers possible."
Some of the key statistics in the paper show that 22 per cent of the province's high school graduates come from Surrey and the South Fraser region, but, for every 100 18-to 24-year-olds from the area, Kwantlen and SFU are only able to offer 12.7 enrolment spots.
Meanwhile, other post-secondary locations in B.C. offer an average of about 48.7 spots per 100 individuals.
"We know the B.C. government is trying to balance their budget, it's an economically challenging situation," said Huberman.
"We're just asking for a commitment in writing that the province will seriously look at Surrey and south of the Fraser at our post-secondary bases in the short-term and long-term range."