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 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

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Government Changes Tune On Cuts To Post-Secondary

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are disappointed to see government changing its tune on potential cuts to post-secondary education, following a media release on savings being considered in the upcoming provincial budget.

The release identified reducing or freezing university operating grants as a way to save between $15 million and $45 million per year.

Previous government communication, including the Choices to Move New Brunswick Forward document released as part of its ongoing Strategic Program Review, identified the development of a new, performance-based funding model for universities as the method being considered to save those funds.

“All year long, students in this province have felt as though government has been pushing their interests aside,“ said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “This new revelation only serves to reinforce that sentiment.”

“Simply reducing or continuing to freeze university operating grants would not be a strategic decision, or a progressive one.“

New Brunswick already ranks eighth out of the ten Canadian provinces in terms of public funding to universities. The 2015-16 provincial budget put a freeze on that funding.

Increasingly insufficient levels of public funding, coupled with decreasing enrolment, has left universities struggling to continue to deliver a high quality education and support services to students. Various programs and staff positions, including counselors, have been cut over the last year as a result.

“Changes do need to be made to the post-secondary education system, and we believe government was correct in its consideration of a new funding formula,” said Katie Davey, NBSA Vice-Chair. “Unfortunately, it now seems to have changed directions entirely in order to take the easy way out.”

“There is tremendous value to be found in New Brunswick’s universities. We strongly urge government to consider that value, and to think twice about making a decision that could bring this system to its knees.”

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