Due to limited post-secondary opportunities south of the Fraser River, students from Surrey and the surrounding area are missing out on securing degrees, and in turn, future job opportunities.
That was the message from SFU president Andrew Petter during a Wednesday luncheon hosted by the Surrey Board of Trade that focused on education south of the Fraser.
In his talk, Petter highlighted three points called the 'Opportunity Agenda for B.C.' during which he spoke of the importance of making sure every qualified student would be able to find a position at post-secondary institutions.
Petter specifically highlighted Surrey and the surrounding area as one of the largest producers of qualified grads, who also happen to be having the toughest time finding post-secondary positions.
"As a result, we're turning away literally thousands of very qualified students from this region," he said. "That's a terrible waste of talent and potential."
According to Petter, despite nearly a third of the province's high school graduates coming from Surrey and the South Fraser region, the post-secondary offerings in the region are so limited that they either have to go elsewhere, or wait longer than before.
"Five or six years ago, a Surrey high school student who graduated with an 85 per cent average was almost assured of being accepted to any SFU faculty," said Petter, noting that those same students aren't guaranteed anything anymore. "Students who are qualified and willing to do the work are having to go elsewhere because there simply isn't enough space in the region."
The other two points in the agenda, said Petter, were making sure students had the financial help needed to pursue their education and committing to establishing initiatives to promote and foster the province's research and innovation potential.
"Now is the time to establish and build that vision," said Petter.