Fredericton, NB – New Brunswick students are welcoming the inclusion of postsecondary-specific action items in the government’s recently-released Economic Growth Plan.
Indicated in the plan are the government’s intention to:
- expand the experiential learning opportunities at the postsecondary level in the province;
- reduce student loan debt, and;
- significantly expanding the capacity of the province’s institutions to attract and recruit out-of-province and international students.
“The growing impact of our postsecondary sector to drive economic growth in the province is increasingly evident,” said Robert Burroughs, executive director of the NBSA. “It is encouraging to see the government include these vital strategic foci in the plan, particularly debt reduction.”
Upwards of 70 percent of jobs created in the next seven years are expected to be in occupations that require a postsecondary degree.
However, students graduating with debt in New Brunswick owe an average of $35,200, the highest in Canada and well above the national average of $22,300. Such high debt levels have been linked to slow economic growth and outmigration.
“For years now, we have been calling on the government to take this debt issue seriously. The introduction of the TAB was a good first step. That said, we expect, now that [loan debt reduction] is included in the economic plan, to see the government make the necessary financial investments with new monies to support this action item,” Burroughs added.
Students also support the inclusion of experiential learning in the plan. “The value of experiential learning cannot be understated,” said Katie Beers, director on the NBSA’s Board. “Our hope with this action item and the Provincial Task Force is that we can establish a new framework for experiential learning in New Brunswick.”