NBSA releases report on State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick

Fredericton, NBThe New Brunswick Student Alliance today released The State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick. The report, an analysis of the province’s  public postsecondary sector, takes the form of a public letter to the Lieutenant-Governor of New Brunswick, the Honourable Jocelyn Roy Vienneau.

“Her Honour was generous in granting our Alliance an audience last November during our annual Advocacy Week. During that time, we promise an update of our progress and accepted some challenges from her,” said Sara Camus, the NBSA’s Board Chair. “This is our response.”

The report also serves as the first edition of a yearly publication from the Alliance in response to government actions, such as funding allocation through the Budget and Main Estimates processes, and the general wellbeing of the postsecondary sector.

“We have an obligation to our members to provide them with a voice to the public, independent of their institutions and the government. The State of Student Affairs in New Brunswick does that,” added NBSA executive director Robert Burroughs. “We are taking the narrative back into our own hands and telling our own story.”

University presidents have been invited to respond to the report.

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Students concerned with latest graduate employment outcomes

Fredericton, NB — The New Brunswick Student Alliance is concerned by the latest employment outcome figures on the graduating Class of 2014.

The figures, released last week by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission indicate declines over the past decade in full-time employment and median earnings (in constant dollars) for postsecondary graduates in New Brunswick.

“This represents a very real problem for the province’s ability to retain young people,” said NBSA Board Chair Sara Camus. “An educated, well-paid workforce is the future of New Brunswick and our graduates need to be adequately supported to stay in the province after their studies.”

The drop in the number of recent graduates working in jobs requiring university education or management indicates another worrying trend: the underemployment of young people across the Maritimes.

“Underemployment is a very real issue for recent graduates,” noted Robert Burroughs, NBSA executive director. “Add to that high debt levels and declining wages, and we have the makings of a demographic disaster for New Brunswick.”

The NBSA has previously urged government to address high debt levels — 50 percent higher than the national average — of graduates in New Brunswick by making necessary changes to programs such as the Timely Completion Benefit (TCB). The TCB, a debt relief program, was last modified in 2015 by imposing a higher debt-cap on students.

Burroughs added, “Student loan debt reduction is a component of the government’s Economic Growth Plan and should be: high debt levels are linked with slow economic growth and outmigration. Yet, two years on and the TCB remains unchanged.”

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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.

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Students Pleased With Changes To SEED Program

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are commending government for modernizing the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program by eliminating its partisan system of grant distribution.

The SEED program provides grants to employers that in turn allow for the hiring of summer students for an average of eight weeks. In years past, elected officials have been responsible for deciding where grants were distributed, with those in government receiving twice as many weeks to allocate as their counterparts in the opposition.

“The value of experiential learning cannot be understated,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “The SEED program was designed to provide post-secondary students with on-the-job experience in their field of study, and to improve their employment prospects at graduation.“

“There is absolutely no reason for such a program to be partisan.”

Co-ops, internships, and work placements such as those funded through the SEED program help post-secondary students to develop their skills, identify career direction, and grow their professional networks. Students who complete one or more of these opportunities are more likely to find a job at graduation.

Studies have shown that those who take part in experiential learning in New Brunswick are also more likely to remain in the province long-term.

“We took our concerns over the partisanship in the SEED program to the legislature back in December, and are very pleased to see changes being made,“ said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair.

“New Brunswick’s post-secondary students believe that experiential learning opportunities should be diverse and non-partisan, and that politics should never get in the way of student success. This is a good move by government. As more details become available, we hope to also see an increase in the number of SEED grants in reflection of government’s commitment to a job-ready generation.”

The SEED program funded 1,115 placements in 2015-16.

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