Vancouver Island University student Jesse Anderson

Vancouver Island University student Jesse Anderson

Tuition waiver program helping former foster children complete schooling

NANAIMO – A post-secondary student is enrolled in tourism management thanks to Vancouver Island University's tuition waiver program.

A post-secondary student is enrolled in tourism management thanks to Vancouver Island University’s tuition waiver program.

Introduced last August as the first of its kind in B.C., the program provides full tuition for students who have been brought up through the foster care system. It assists people like Jesse Anderson as they pursue post-secondary education.

Anderson went into youth care at age 16 after his father passed away. After finishing high school, he made it into university and paid tuition for his first two years. He was researching bursaries, came across the program and said it has been a great help.

“Education is so important. Without having the stress of having to pay back super amounts of money, it puts me at ease,” said Anderson. “I can actually focus on using my mind, moving straight forward and not looking back with a whole bunch of debt.”

He said the tourism management program is dynamic and can be applied in many different ways. He wants to help youth at risk and as a mature student he feels like it his obligation to give back.

“I want to travel the world, maybe go help Third World countries, definitely study abroad, definitely work with youth at risk and anything that allows me to just get new experiences,” Anderson said.

Ralph Nilson, university president and vice-chancellor, said the program has been successful with 13 students talking part during the first intake last September and 17 in the current semester.

“It benefits students in terms of their recognition of their opportunity for choice,” said Nilson. “Because many young people in care, they have no family, no other supports and this provides them an opportunity to continue in their education rather than waiting for three, four or five years before they can afford to actually do it.”

The success of the tuition waiver program was discussed during the university’s Report to the Community event last week.