TRU representatives told a provincial finance committee Thursday that the institution needs greater and more stable funding from the provincial budget.
The select standing committee for finance and government services met in Kamloops for a morning session at the Holiday Inn in North Kamloops. It is seeking ideas to present to the finance minister in advance of next year's budget.
In light of declining natural gas revenues and a promise to return to a balanced budget, the B.C. Liberal government is seeking ways to reign in spending and improve revenues.
The committee of Liberal and New Democrat MLAs heard from 13 presenters, representing groups as diverse as a provincial mining and Metis associations.
But the session was dominated by representatives from Thompson Rivers University's administration, faculty association and student union. All pushed for more and stable funding while rejecting any future cost-saving ideas.
"We know at a provincial level that real per-student operating grants for public post-secondary institutions have fallen by about nine per cent since 2001," said faculty association president Jason Brown.
"For our students that means more large lecture formats, fewer student services and support."
TRU president Alan Shaver said the university was supposed to have 450 master's students, but today has only 100.
"Right now we don't receive any funding for those students in our university, nor do those masters students get any funding in the form of scholarships from the province. In other provinces like Quebec, Ontario and Alberta, they have provincial scholarship programs for graduate students."
TRU's student union also asked for more university funding, arguing higher debt loads cause students not to complete their degrees, harming provincial competitiveness.
The committee's chairman, Douglas Horne, and NDP member Mable Elmore, both said they expect the group of six Liberals and four New Democrats to issue a single report, despite timing before a provincial election.
Elmore said the committee heard in northern B.C. about a backlog of applications for resource development. In Vancouver, there were calls for higher corporate taxes.
Horne said some post-secondary groups are asking for changes to accounting rules that would allow them to spend differently but within budgets. Those changes would not cost the provincial treasury.
Horne agreed with Elmore the committee wants to issue a single persuasive report to finance minister Mike de Jong, rather than separate majority and minority reports.
"I think that's what British Columbians are looking for. They're tired of partisan name calling," said the Coquitlam MLA. "They want to see the legislature get down to business."