STUDENT ORGANIZATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY RELEASE A JOINT PUBLICATION ON STUDENT EMPLOYABILITY, SKILLS, AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

Fredericton, NB– Student organizations across the country have released a joint publication on student employability titled Shared Perspectives: A Joint Publication on Preparing Students for the Workforce. 

This publication features student perspectives on several issues in post-secondary education, including employability, skills development, and experiential learning opportunities. It includes contributions from the Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC), the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA), the College Student Alliance (CSA), the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA), the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA), Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS), and the University of Prince Edward Island Student Union (UPEISU). 

“The NBSA is proud to contribute to this project for the third year in a row,” said Emily Blue executive director of the NBSA. “Students across the country are looking for more meaningful work experience throughout their studies.” 

Shared Perspectives identifies challenges and opportunities encountered by post-secondary students on both a national and provincial level. It draws upon students’ experiences on campus and emphasizes how we must work together to provide post-secondary students with a strong foundation to succeed. Helping students succeed after graduation is an essential aspect of post-secondary education. 

 Our goal is for all students to have access to higher education and the ability to better their skill-set, regardless of financial position or background. The partners in this publication believe this joint report helps further the conversation on student employability, skills development, experiential learning opportunities, and how best to prepare students for the workforce.

 “Experiential learning provides students with necessary on-the-job skills by linking their academic experience with tangible workplace experience,” said Simal Qureshi board director with the NBSA. “This can have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a student’s chance of employment after graduation.”

Shared Perspectives: A Joint Publication on Preparing Students for the Workforce is a joint report from seven partners, representing over 570,000 students. To view the full report, visit here.

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Press Releases

NEW BRUNSWICK STUDENT ASSOCIATIONS COLLECTIVELY DENOUNCE THE CHANGES MADE TO STUDENT FINANCIAL AID

FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA),  La Fédération des étudiantes et des étudiants du Campus universitaire de Moncton (FÉÉCUM), l’Association générale des étudiantes et des étudiants de l’Université de Moncton, campus d’Edmundston (AGÉÉUMCE), and l’Association étudiante de l’Université de Moncton, Campus de Shippagan (AÉUMCS) are jointly calling upon the Minister of Post-Secondary Education to reconsider his decisions with regard to the cuts made to student financial aid on April 9.

The announcement made last Tuesday imposes a limit on the amount that can be awarded through the Renewed Tuition Bursary (RTB) program. This new amount is far below the average cost of tuition for public institutions and colleges in New Brunswick. The most vulnerable students in the province will be significantly impacted by this change.

“The inclusion of students from private institutions into the RTB program, without increasing the student financial aid envelope accordingly, reduces the amount of funding available to students who need it the most,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA’s board of directors.  “As a result, these regressive changes will have a devastating impact New Brunswick’s most vulnerable and marginalised students.”

In addition, the NBSA, FÉÉCUM, AGÉÉUMCE, and AÉUMCS reject the inclusion of private institutions in the new RTB program.

“Private institutions are in no way held accountable to the government for their academic programs, their tuition or fee structures, or their recruitment and hiring practices. There are known examples of some of these institutions justifying partaking in discriminatory practices, particularly on the basis of religious beliefs.” continued Emma Miller, vice-chair of the NBSA’s board of directors.

The Timely Completion Benefit was also eliminated during last week’s announcement in order to allow the government to reintroduce the Tuition Tax Credit. The NBSA and FÉÉCUM have already made their perspective on tax credits very clear – they are ineffective measures that fail to increase accessibility of postsecondary education,  reduce student debt, and retain graduates in the province.

That is why we urge the Minister of Post-Secondary Education, Trevor Holder, to revisit the recently announced decisions. At the very least, the government should consider reinvesting funds into the Timely Completion Benefit or another debt relief program and increase the available maximum grants to ensure that students from low-income families are able to maintain their targeted, free tuition. Finally, government should  also abandon the idea of tax credits, as these types of programs have traditionally disproportionately benefited students from the wealthiest families and the funds used for this program would be much more effectively used by investing increased upfront, needs-based grants.

L’AGÉÉUMCE, l’AÉUMCS et la FÉÉCUM represents students at Université de Moncton.

The New Brunswick Student Alliance represents over 12,000 students from student associations from public anglophone universities (University of New Brunswick – Fredericton and Saint John, St Thomas University, and Mount Allison University).

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For information or interviews:

Emily Blue | Executive Director
902-940-3681 | director@nbsa-aenb.ca | http://www.nbsa-aenb.ca
New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA)

Pierre Losier | Directeur général
506-381-7936 | dg@feecum.ca | http://www.feecum.ca
Fédération des étudiantes et des étudiants du Campus universitaire de Moncton (FÉÉCUM)

Press Releases Uncategorized

It’s #NOTFAIRATALL


On April 9th the Government of New Brunswick announced devastating changes to the student financial aid program in the province.


These changes include:

  • Replacing the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class with the Renewed Tuition Bursary program. This resulted in the lowering the maximum grant low and middle-income students are eligible for from $10,000 to $3,000, which ensures no students will receive free tuition.
  • Eliminating the Timely Completion Benefit which is the only debt relief program available to NB graduates
  • Reintroducing the Tuition Tax Credit

WHY WE ARE CONCERNED

  • In 2017/2018, 6,319 low-income students across the province were able to attend postsecondary by having their tuition fully covered through an upfront, non-repayable grant. With these changes, all these students are now left unsure of the amount of assistance they will receive and consequently if they will financially be able to begin or continue their postsecondary studies.
  • In 2014, Statistics Canada reported New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates as having the highest average student debt in the country at $35,200, compared to the national average of $22,300.
  • The Timely Completion Benefit was the only debt relief program in New Brunswick and with its removal, the many students with above-average student debt in the province now have nowhere to turn for relief.
  • Research has consistently shown that carrying heavier loads of debt leads to slow economic growth and outmigration, both issues which New Brunswick is already struggling to combat.

Voice your concern by emailing the Minister of Postsecondary Education. Click the button below to be brought to a prepared email, sign your name, and share your concern.



Using Gmail? Just copy and paste the emails and our letter.

trevor.holder@gnb.ca, guy.arseneault@gnb.ca, robert.mckee@gnb.ca, kris.austin@gnb.ca, david.coon@gnb.ca, megan.mitton@gnb.ca, advocacy@nbsa-aenb.ca

Dear Minister Holder,

As your constituent, I am writing to you today to ask for action to help the many postsecondary students across New Brunswick who will be negatively affected by the recently announced changes to New Brunswick student financial assistance. 

I have compiled a few points to help illustrate the urgency of this issue:
In 2017/2018, 6,319 low-income students across the province were able to attend postsecondary by having their tuition fully covered through an upfront, non-repayable grant. With these changes, all these students are now left unsure of the amount of assistance they will receive and consequently, if they will financially be able to begin or continue their postsecondary studies. 

  • In 2014, Statistics Canada reported New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates as having the highest average student debt in the country at $35,200, compared to the national average of $22,300. 
  • The Timely Completion Benefit was the only debt relief program in New Brunswick and with its removal, the many students with above-average student debt in the province now have nowhere to turn for relief. 
  • Research has consistently shown that carrying heavier loads of debt leads to slow economic growth and outmigration, both issues which New Brunswick is already struggling to combat. 

As these points show, the changes made to student financial assistance are going to have real, immediate, and devastating impacts on students in New Brunswick. 

The newly announced Renewed Tuition Bursary (RTB) program is meant to replace the existing Free Tuition Program (FTP) and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TMRC) suite and the elimination of TCB comes with no plans to introduce any other means of debt relief for students in the province.  

Under RTB, students will now receive a maximum provincial grant of $3,000 for university students or $1,500 for college students, based upon their family size and income. This is a substantial cut to the previous thresholds where university students were eligible for provincial grants up to $10,000 and up to $5,000 for college students. Bringing the maximum provincial thresholds down so substantially ensures that even a student from the poorest family in the province, who qualifies for the maximum grant from both the provincial and the federal governments, will still not receive enough financial support to cover their tuition. 

In addition, failing to provide New Brunswick students with any means of debt relief while simultaneously cutting the upfront assistance that the most vulnerable and marginalised students receive, is both dangerous and irresponsible to the future of our province. This ensures that New Brunswick graduates will continue to carry heavy debt loads, which will hinder their ability to contribute to the economy after graduation and may also result in them leaving the province.

Since the government began their review of the FTP and TRMC earlier this year, student organisations, universities, and faculty associations have continued to support the maintenance of FTP and TRMC in their previous form and rejected the idea of reintroducing tuition tax credits at the cost of these programs. 

As a result, these changes are not only regressive policy measures which are sure to have devastating impacts on students in the province, but they also demonstrate a complete failure of the current government to listen to students in a conversation that is fundamentally about their education and experience.

As your constituent, I’m asking for your support in calling upon the government to do the following: 

  • Reverse the changes made to student financial assistance to revert back to the former Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class suite, with the maximum grants set at $10,000 for university students and $5,000 for college students. 
  • Repurpose the funds from the former Timely Completion Benefit to establish a new debt relief program to support New Brunswick’s postsecondary graduates. 
  • At minimum, to grandfather current students utilizing the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class suite, as well as the Timely Completion Benefit, to enable them to complete their education with their expected financial assistance and debt relief. 

Sincerely,

A Concerned Student

Uncategorized

Students reject changes to student financial aid

Fredericton, N.B. – The NBSA firmly opposes all changes announced to student financial assistance yesterday by the Government of New Brunswick. These changes include plans to introduce a Renewed Tuition Bursary (RTB) and to eliminate the Timely Completion Benefit (TCB).  

The RTB program is meant to replace the existing Free Tuition Program (FTP) and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TMRC) suite and the elimination of TCB comes with no plans to introduce any other means of debt relief for students in the province.  

“Despite the government’s misleading messaging of these changes being an ‘extension’ to the FTP and TRMC programs, the newly announced RTB effectively ends the provision of free tuition to students from low-income families,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA’s board of directors. “As a result, these regressive changes will have a devastating impact New Brunswick’s most vulnerable and marginalised students.” 

Students will now receive a maximum provincial grant of $3,000 for university students or $1,500 for college students, based upon their family size and income. This is a substantial cut to the previous thresholds where university students were eligible for provincial grants up to $10,000 and up to $5,000 for college students.

Under the RTB program, eligible full-time students attending both public and private institutions will have access. The government contends that the new inclusion of private institutions makes student financial aid “fairer.”

Private institutions receive 20 per cent more government financial support per student than students attending public institutions and these students receive almost three times as much funding through the New Brunswick Bursary than students at public universities. 

“In addition to the fact that because private institutions are not held to, and do not meet the same standards of accountability and quality of education that public universities are expected to, we reject the inclusion of private institutions in RTB,” said Emma Miller, vice-chair of the NBSA’s board of directors. “Especially where the inclusion of these institutions has come at a cost to students coming from the poorest families in the province, it is extremely difficult to see how these changes make student financial assistance ‘fairer’ in any way.” 

In addition, the Timely Completion Benefit, the only debt relief program available in the province, has been eliminated and will not be replaced with another program. Where New Brunswick students carry the highest average level of debt in Canada at an average of $35,200, eliminating this program with no plans to provide New Brunswick graduates with any support with their debt is irresponsible and extremely disappointing. 

“The cuts made to the upfront assistance through grants, paired with the elimination of TCB will certainly result in higher levels of student debt,” said Emily Blue, executive director of the NBSA. “High debt levels are linked with slow economic growth and outmigration and in a province who struggles to retain its youth, the elimination of TCB is highly concerning.”

In addition, the Tuition Tax Credit will be reintroduced for students, and families, to claim when they file their taxes in 2020. Research consistently has shown that educational tax credits tend to disproportionately benefit higher-income households and high-income earners. 

“Tax credits are in no way a replacement debt relief program and have been proven to do nothing to increase access to postsecondary for those who struggle financially,” said Workman. “For a government that speaks about the need for evidence-based policy and a world-class education system, the reintroduction of the tax credit and the negative changes to financial aid is contrary to this government’s asserted goals and a step backward for the province.”  

In January 2019, the Government of New Brunswick asked key stakeholders to submit responses to questions regarding the effectiveness of the FTP and TRMC programs, versus programs that were previously used, such as the Tuition Rebate Program and Tuition Tax Credits. 

The responses submitted by student organisations, universities, and faculty all supported the maintenance of FTP and TRMC and rejected the idea of reintroducing tuition tax credits. Research being completed by the New Brunswick Institute of Research, Data, and Training has, in its first stages, found that FTP and TRMC were working in their mandate to increase access to postsecondary education. 

As a result, these changes are not only regressive policy measures which are sure to have devastating impacts on students in the province, but they also demonstrate a complete failure of the Higgs government to listen to students in a conversation that is fundamentally about their education and experience.

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Uncategorized

Students bring forward solutions to systemic barriers in postsecondary education

Fredericton, N.B. – This week students in New Brunswick are proposing comprehensive reforms aimed at addressing systemic barriers in the postsecondary sector in the Alliance’s latest advocacy document, “Building Access, Building New Brunswick.”

The document, released today, outlines the Alliance’s priorities for the 2018-2019 year which will set the direction for this week’s advocacy meetings.

Student leaders from the NBSA’s four-member campuses, representing over 12,000 students, look forward to meeting with MLAs, university administrations, senior civil servants, and stakeholders between February 11-15 as part of the Alliance’s sixth annual Advocacy Week.

“We are encouraged by the Speech from the Throne and government’s central goal to cultivate a world-class education system here in New Brunswick. Enacting our recommendations would achieve this exact goal by creating an accessible, affordable, and high-quality postsecondary education sector,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA’s Board. “Because of this, we anticipate government being receptive to and adopting our recommendations.”

One of the Alliance’s key priorities this year is funding to introduce a suite of evidence-driven, technology-based mental health intervention programs across the province.

“As our Alliance has indicated for years, waiting times to receive mental health support on our campuses averages from two to six weeks, rendering these services inaccessible to the many students in need of support,” said Emma Miller, vice-chair of the NBSA’s Board. “We look forward to government’s support and investment into the mental health of New Brunswick students.”

The document also recommends investment in other key areas such as trauma-informed support services for sexual violence survivors, bettering the physical accessibility of campuses, improving student financial aid and debt relief programs, and providing international students with a non-drivers license, photo identification cards.

In addition, the Alliance continues to urge government and universities to acknowledge and respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action by actively participating in the decolonization the province’s postsecondary education system.

“Students are asking for these various strategic investments which are certain to better the postsecondary sector in the province at every level,” said Emily Blue, executive director of the NBSA. “Students are the future of New Brunswick. If we can build a stronger postsecondary education sector, then we can build a better New Brunswick.”

A full copy of “Building Access, Building New Brunswick” is available online in English and French.

Translation by Heather Blakely

Design by Emily Blue

 

Press Releases

Maritime students respond to concerning cuts to financial aid, institutional funding, and impacts to campus life by Ontario government

Fredericton, NB- Yesterday, the Ontario government announced sweeping changes to tuition, financial aid, and mandatory fees. These changes include cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) grants, a reduction in domestic tuition by 10 per cent, and the elimination of “non-essential, non-tuition fees.”

As an organisation which exists to advocate for greater affordability, accessibility, quality, and the increased role of student’s voice, this announcement is alarming in several respects.

Under the new changes to OSAP, grants will predominantly be provided to students whose income is less than $50,000, with a reduction in grant size. 

“For students from low and middle-income families, this means that they will be expected to pay more out of pocket, which will be significantly burdensome due to the cut of the 6 month OSAP interest-free repayment grace period,” said Emily Blue executive director of the NBSA. 

New Brunswick’s targeted free tuition programs were modeled after OSAP. Our programs, the Free Tuition Program and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class provided support to 7,744 New Brunswick students in the most recent academic year (2017-2018). These programs have helped to reduce the financial barriers to accessing postsecondary education. 

The announcement also highlighted tuition reduction for domestic students by 10 per cent. This reduction will result in annual decreased institutional revenue by $450-500 million, or roughly 3 to 4 per cent of total revenue. 

The elimination of “non-essential non-tuition” fees is also certain to have negative impacts on student life in Ontario. Students could lose access to clubs, societies, beneficial programs, scholarships, valuable experiential learning, and campus employment opportunities. 

“These changes will greatly hinder the student voice and student representation at the institutional level and all levels of government, diminishing the overall post-secondary student experience in Ontario,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA board of directors.

The New Brunswick Student Alliance is joining StudentsNS and the University of Prince Edward Island Student Union to stand in solidarity with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance and the College Student Alliance in urging the Ontario Government to consider the detrimental impacts of these decisions. 

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Press Releases Uncategorized

STUDENTS RESPOND TO THE SPEECH FROM THE THRONE

Fredericton, NB- Following the outcome of the November 2 vote of non-confidence, resulting in the fall of the Gallant Liberal government, students in New Brunswick awaited yesterday’s Speech from the Throne to see what the future of postsecondary education may look like under the Higgs Progressive Conservative minority government.

Tuesday’s Speech from the Throne highlighted the importance of building a world class education system and continuing programs that aid in that pursuit by removing barriers and engaging with evidence based solutions.

“In recent years great strides forward have been taken to address the financial barriers that students face when accessing postsecondary education,” said Emily Blue executive director of the NBSA. “The Free Tuition Program and the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class are having a marked and notably positive impact on students from this province.”

In the most recent academic year, 7,744 New Brunswick students received over $17 million in financial aid from these two programs which allowed them to pursue their studies in New Brunswick. In just a few short years, FTP and TRMC have been regarded as exceptionally progressive and effective models of student financial aid in both a national and international context.

This is why students in New Brunswick are hopeful that when a review of this program begins that research completed by the Higher Education Strategy Associates Targeted Free Tuition: A Global Analysis, which contrasted New Brunswick’s targeted free tuition with other jurisdictions and found it to be a world leader, will be taken into consideration. In addition, students sincerely hope that the Higgs government will draw their attention to the long term study that is being completed by the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training which will provide additional evidence based research on the efficacy of this program over the next five years.

“When discussing the barriers students face while accessing postsecondary education it is important to acknowledge that there are significant non-financial barriers that students face as well, such as the prevalence of sexual violence, the inadequacy of on-campus mental health resources, and the lack of support for Indigenous students,” said Brianna Workman, chair of the NBSA’s board of directors.

Included in yesterday’s Speech from the Throne was the intent to review mental health services in the province to ensure that they are accessible to those who need the support.

Our members are hopeful that the removal of barriers to mental health resources will be extend to those on campus. Between 2012 and 2015 the number of students who have had mental health related academic accommodations requests has increased threefold.

The NBSA has previously advocated for a suite of evidence-driven, technology-based intervention programs alongside our Maritime counterparts in Nova Scotia and P.E.I. These programs would allow for mental health literacy training to be delivered to every student, faculty, and staff member at public universities in New Brunswick, decrease wait times on campus, and increase the effectiveness of counselling sessions. Given the recent progress on this file in both Nova Scotia and P.E.I., the NBSA would like to see the Government of New Brunswick follow suit in addressing one of the most substantive issues facing students today.  

In the Speech from the Throne, a commitment was made to, “Establish a committee to review the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commision to ensure that recommendations with New Brunswick’s jurisdiction are met.” The implementation of these Calls to Action in the postsecondary education sector in New Brunswick would be a step in the right direction towards meaningfully engaging with the Academy’s history of racism, inequality, and exclusivity, which the NBSA firmly supports.

The NBSA looks forward to continuing our advocacy on behalf of New Brunswick postsecondary students in the months to come through  discussion and collaboration with all political parties. The NBSA remains committed to ensuring that New Brunswick students have access to a high-quality, accessible, and affordable postsecondary education experience here in New Brunswick.

Press Releases