Fredericton, N.B. 一 In an announcement made this morning in Moncton, the Minister of Postsecondary Education, Roger Melanson, announced $5 million in targeted funding for experiential learning which will be available to all postsecondary students beginning this fall.

The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) applauds this crucial investment that allows for increased experiential learning opportunities for postsecondary students in the province, especially as experiential learning becomes an increasingly essential part of a students’ academic experience and post-graduation transition into the workforce. This announcement comes after several years of work by the NBSA in collaboration with the province’s Experiential Learning Steering Committee. Since 2016, the NBSA has ensured that the student voice and student perspective were accounted for with the Committee in an effort to bolster the postsecondary sector.

More recently, the NBSA also spent considerable time advocating for the implementation of such a program in its 2017 Advocacy Document, Mandating a Better New Brunswick.

“We are delighted to see that the NBSA’s recommendation for the creation of an experiential learning fund has been accepted and will be put in place this coming fall,” said Brianna Workman, Chair of the NBSA’s Board of Directors. “This fund will allow more students to access these necessary opportunities while still in study, thus providing them with essential training outside of the classroom”. The NBSA has long advocated that in order to improve the academic experience for students in New Brunswick, serious efforts are needed to support students in fields of study that traditionally lack experience learning components.

In addition to the Student Experiential Learning Fund (SELF), the $5 million investment per year also allocates funding for Indigenous students to seek work experience outside of traditional educational and internship opportunities, as well as funds for bursaries for those students in nursing, education, and nutrition to cover the cost of mandatory work-placements.

“Overall, today’s announcement will provide New Brunswick students with the opportunity for experiential learning regardless of their field of study,” said Emily Blue, Executive Director of the NBSA. “These opportunities will provide students  with a competitive edge as they join the workforce upon graduation.”

For instance, recent data has shown that access to a paid internship or work placement can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a student’s chance of employment after graduation. Two thirds of students who have access to a paid internship during their studies acquire gainful employment less than five years after graduation. As a result of today’s announcement, more New Brunswick students will be paid for their work while also gaining valuable experience in their field.

“The opportunities created as a result of this investment are fantastic opportunities for students to take advantage of,” said Simal Qureshi board director with the NBSA. “This will play a big part in ensuring that New Brunswick graduates develop necessary on-the-job skills by linking their academic experience with tangible workplace experience. This will certainly have an  impact on graduate unemployment and underemployment.”

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