Students with lived experience in government care can face significant challenges in their lives and their educational journeys. In 2017, the BC government created the Provincial Tuition Waiver Program (PTWP) to encourage students with lived experience in care to continue their education at the post-secondary level. In the four years since the PTWP was launched, more supports have been made available to BC students with lived experience in care. The focus of this study is to investigate the effects of financial, academic, and mental health supports intended to improve the post-secondary experience of students with lived experience in BC’s care system.
A total of 278 students and 12 professional staff from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Victoria (UVic), Thompson Rivers University (TRU), and Langara College participated in the study. Students completed an anonymous survey, and some student survey respondents and the professional staff participated in interviews.
Students reported difficulties with leaving the care system and transitioning into PSE. Those who received the PTWP were satisfied with that program; however, a third of the students surveyed did not meet the PTWP eligibility criteria. Students reported difficulty getting additional funding to cover other living and educational costs. Some were unhappy with long waitlists for on-campus mental health services at their institution, and some felt that counsellors did not understand their backgrounds well enough to effectively assist them. UBC and UVic students were happy with the dedicated “navigator” staff at these institutions who support students with lived experience in care.
The report recommends:
- Creating wrap-around support models at all BC post-secondary institutions for students with lived experience in care.
- Reviewing and aligning post-secondary mental health supports for students with lived experience in care.
- Reviewing and aligning post-secondary financial supports for students with lived experience in care.