NBSA Applauds the Establishment of the Student Experiential Learning Fund and Additional Investments in Experiential Learning

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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Government Signs MOUs with Universities, Announce Predictable Tuition and Increase to Operating Grants

Fredericton, NB – In an announcement made yesterday evening, the Government of New Brunswick stated that they had officially come to terms with three of the province’s four publicly funded universities to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) through to the 2020-2021 academic year. Central to the MOUs is the implementation of a stable tuition schedule for students studying at the universities, which guarantees predictable tuition rates  for the length of a student’s degree. Under this new agreement, nearly 90% of students studying in New Brunswick will now be covered by the new tuition model.

Since 2015, the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) has advocated for the creation of predictable tuition schedules, implemented through MOUs between the universities and Government. This announcement signifies a major step forward in ensuring the financial accessibility of the province’s postsecondary institution in the future.

The MOUs also impose a tuition cap on the universities, but unlike the cap seen in 2014, university operating grants will be increased to meet the loss in revenue. Over the next four years, operating grants will be increased by 5%, with a 1% per year for the first three years followed by 2% in the final year. This should ensure a stable source of revenue for universities without relying on increased tuition rates.

“These agreements represent the culmination of nearly three years of work in ensuring all students that chose to study in New Brunswick have the information they need to financially plan for their education”, said Samuel Titus, Acting Executive Director of the NBSA. “The NBSA is happy to see three of the four universities sign an MOU.”

As of right now, St Thomas University is the only institution to not sign an MOU with the province, citing an unsatisfactory increase in the operating grants as the main reason. The province has claimed that are continuing to work with St Thomas to get them to sign the MOU. “We look forward to seeing St Thomas sign an MOU in the near future”, added Titus.

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Government Signs MOUs with Universities, Announce Predictable Tuition and Increased Operating Grants

Fredericton, NB – In an announcement made yesterday evening, the Government of New Brunswick stated that they had officially come to terms with three of the province’s four publicly funded universities to sign Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) through to the 2020-2021 academic year. Central to the MOUs is the implementation of a stable tuition schedule for students studying at the universities, which guarantees predictable tuition rates  for the length of a student’s degree. Under this new agreement, nearly 90% of students studying in New Brunswick will now be covered by the new tuition model.

Since 2015, the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) has advocated for the creation of predictable tuition schedules, implemented through MOUs between the universities and Government. This announcement signifies a major step forward in ensuring the financial accessibility of the province’s postsecondary institution in the future.

The MOUs also impose a tuition cap on the universities, but unlike the cap seen in 2014, university operating grants will be increased to meet the loss in revenue. Over the next four years, operating grants will be increased by 5%, with a 1% per year for the first three years followed by 2% in the final year. This should ensure a stable source of revenue for universities without relying on increased tuition rates.

“These agreements represent the culmination of nearly three years of work in ensuring all students that chose to study in New Brunswick have the information they need to financially plan for their education”, said Samuel Titus, Acting Executive Director of the NBSA. “The NBSA is happy to see three of the four universities sign an MOU.”

As of right now, St Thomas University is the only institution to not sign an MOU with the province, citing an unsatisfactory increase in the operating grants as the main reason. The province has claimed that are continuing to work with St Thomas to get them to sign the MOU. “We look forward to seeing St Thomas sign an MOU in the near future”, added Titus.

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Student Reaction To Budget Mixed

Fredericton, NB – New Brunswick post-secondary students were disappointed to see an operating grant freeze and tuition hike in today’s provincial budget, but remain optimistic about forthcoming consultations surrounding financial aid.

The 2016-17 Budget froze operating grants to universities for the second year in a row and capped tuition increases for New Brunswick students at 2%. No cap was imposed on tuition fees for out-of-province or international students.

“Knowing that significant reductions to university operating grants had been considered, we’re pleased to see government not making those cuts,“ said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director.

“However, by freezing operating grants and increasing tuition, it is placing more of the financial burden of pursuing a post-secondary education on students.”

New Brunswick ranks eighth out of the ten Canadian provinces in terms of per-student public funding to universities. It ranks fourth in terms of tuition fees.

A commitment to developing a new tuition assistance program in consultation with student groups was also contained within the Budget. Cost presents a significant barrier to access, with New Brunswick students graduating with debt holding the highest average debt in Canada at $35,200.

“Though this budget could have been worse for students, it certainly could have been better,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “We continue to be concerned about the high debt levels and comparatively low levels of student financial aid here in New Brunswick.”

“We are also concerned about the impact differential tuition for out-of-province students could have on enrolment and on this province’s future labour force.”

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission recently observed a one-year decline in enrolment of 5.2% at New Brunswick universities.

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Budget Offers Opportunity To Invest In Students

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are calling on government to commit to student success by adopting a number of key recommendations in the 2016-17 provincial budget.

Included among the recommendations are the reinvestment of funds from the tuition rebate program, the elimination of harmful income assessments for financial aid, an extension of Medicare to international students, and an increase in experiential learning opportunities.

“2015 was a tough year for post-secondary students in New Brunswick,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “Between the elimination of the tuition rebate, raising of the Timely Completion Benefit’s debt-cap, and a university operating grant freeze, students feel as though nothing has gone their way.“

“Now, students are asking government to show that they have not, in fact, been put on a back-burner.”

The four recommendations would see government invest in better financial and social supports for New Brunswick’s post-secondary students – supports that would help to reduce average debt loads, increase enrolment, and better ensure the development of a productive and skilled labour force.

They would also reduce the likelihood of outmigration from the province.

“Post-secondary students in New Brunswick face limited work opportunities, the highest average debt load in the country (for those with debt), and are often forced to choose between employment and financial aid due to a broken student loan system,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“As a result, over 6,200 youth have left New Brunswick in the last five years alone.“

“Government has stated that it wants to create the province’s most job-ready generation. Students want to be that generation, but they will not get there unsupported. We strongly urge government to adopt these recommendations in the upcoming budget and commit to student success.”
Read our pre-budget submission in full here.

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