NBSA welcomes key changes to student financial assistance

Fredericton, NB — Postsecondary students across New Brunswick are celebrating changes made to student financial assistance programs in the province. Today, the government announced the introduction of the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TRMC) program, an extension of the existing Free Tuition Program (FTP).

“We have been pushing the government for almost a year now to include a progressive income threshold for their upfront grants program,” said Robert Burroughs, executive director of the New Brunswick Student Alliance. “The announcement today is a fundamental step to increasing both accessibility and affordability for students.”

The government also announced that it will be extending provincial healthcare coverage to international students, effective September 2017.

“This is fantastic news for international students in this province,” said Fernanda Damiani, board director of the NBSA and president of the St Thomas University Students’ Union. “This is the result of three years of hard work by the NBSA and we are delighted that the government is recognizing the value of international students in New Brunswick.”

Roughly 12% of university students in New Brunswick are international and contribute to almost $200 million to the provincial GDP. New Brunswick will join Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador in offering medicare coverage to its international students.

“This finally puts New Brunswick on a level playing field when it comes to international recruitment,” said Burroughs, “and will play a big part in supporting the retention and post-graduation transition of these students.”

More information on the thresholds for the TRMC is available here.

More information on the student financial assistance programs through the Government of New Brunswick is available here.

Press Releases

NBSA accepts integral role in SEED program

Fredericton, NB – Postsecondary students in New Brunswick are pleased with the recent changes to the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program announced last Friday.

The NBSA has been engaged with the PETL team responsible for the SEED program since the Fall and recommended improvements to the program. Almost all were adopted and have been implemented for the 2017 season.

“Changes, particularly to the marketing and communication of the voucher program, were necessary and we are delighted that the Department was willing to take student and stakeholder concerns on board and make welcomed improvements,” added Robert Burroughs, executive director. “The Minister’s commitment to keeping SEED a student-focused employment program is also greatly appreciated.”

Proposed in these changes include a draw for student vouchers. NBSA staff will serve as third-party validators to certify the independence of the draw.

“We are pleased to have a strong working relationship with the civil servants at PETL,” said Travis Daley, NBSA Board Chair, “and will be working with them over the coming weeks to flesh out the NBSA’s role as a validator and how we can help our membership better understand the voucher process.”

Effective immediate, the NBSA will also voluntarily exempt itself as an employer in the SEED program and its Board Directors will henceforth recuse themselves as voucher recipients for as long as the NBSA is involved in the validation process.

Students can apply for the SEED program through NBjobs.ca here.

In The Media Press Releases

Students propose comprehensive PSE reforms

Fredericton, NB – Students in New Brunswick are proposing comprehensive reforms to the postsecondary sector in the New Brunswick Student Alliance’s latest advocacy document, “Postsecondary: the Pathway to Prosperity”.

The document, released this morning, identifies pressing student issues for 2016-2017 and will inform student-led advocacy efforts this week.

Student leaders from the NBSA’s four member campuses and two observing partner campuses across the province will hold meetings in Fredericton between November 7 – 10 as part of the NBSA’s annual Advocacy Week.

Meetings with MLAs, university presidents, senior civil servants, and key stakeholders have already been scheduled.

“We are encouraged by the Speech from the Throne and the government’s public commitment to actioning consequential change to our education system,” said Travis Daley, chair of the NBSA’s Board. “We anticipate that the government will be onboard with most if not all of our recommendations this year.”

Chief among the NBSA’s priorities is the implementation a sliding scale for the Tuition Access Bursary.

“We have said before that the TAB was a solid first step, but that improvements are needed. We believe that the introduction of a sliding scale would be the kind of sound, progressive economic policy that this province needs,” said Robert Burroughs, the NBSA’s executive director.

The document also recommends that the government make changes to other financial assistance programs such as the Timely Completion Benefit, while urging strategic investments in mental health, international student healthcare, and experiential learning. The NBSA is also urging them to take an active role in responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action to increase postsecondary access for Indigenous students in New Brunswick.

“We understand that we are proposing a variety of student issues, some less traditionally-recognised than others,” Burroughs said.

“However, postsecondary education is at the heart of economic success and community prosperity. Investments in our human capital are fundamental to any economic growth plan for this province. This necessitates a whole-of-government approach to postsecondary policy and our recommendations offer a holistic, comprehensive response to the challenges our province faces.”

A full copy of “Postsecondary: the Pathway to Prosperity” is available online in English & French.
Translation: Julien Pitre
Design: Edward Wojciechowski

Press Releases

NBSA announces dates for 2016 Advocacy Week

Fredericton, NB – Student leaders from across the province will be headed to the Legislative Assembly in November to discuss how New Brunswick can leverage the wealth of knowledge and potential human capital of our postsecondary (PSE) sector to build a stronger, more prosperous society.

The New Brunswick Student Alliance will be hosting its fourth annual Advocacy Week in Fredericton from November 7-10, 2016 as part of its pre-budget activities.

“Our organisation remains committed to ensuring that we have an accessible, affordable, and high-equality PSE sector in this province,” said Travis Daley, chair of the NBSA. “By and large, our politicians are committed to student issues. We look forward to engaging with legislators and decision makers of all political parties and function.”

MLAs, university presidents, faculty members, and senior civil servants received official invitations to Advocacy Week this week.

Chief among the NBSA’s priorities is the implementation of a sliding scale, or step function, to the Tuition Access Bursary before the next academic year. A sliding scale would increase the threshold for participation in the TAB program to include some of those who do not currently qualify.

“The policy behind the TAB addresses the necessity for the skills to navigate a knowledge-based economy. The program, however, needs improvements, the biggest of which is that sliding scale. Increasing access is fundamental to helping grow our economy. As such, we believe the introduction of the sliding scale would be the kind of sound economic policy that this province needs,” said Robert Burroughs, the NBSA’s executive director.

Students will also be asking the government to make changes to other programs such as the Timely Completion Benefit, while recommending strategic investments in mental health, international student healthcare, and experiential education.

“When the premier came to our campuses last month, he admitted the government had to make difficult choices in this budget,” Daley said. “We understand that money is tight, but we hope that his government makes the right choices for students because student outcomes are economic outcomes. An investment in our youth is always a smart investment.”

The organization will be releasing a detailed document at the end of the month identifying its specific recommendations to the government.

Press Releases

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.

Uncategorized

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.

Uncategorized