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

Economic Impact Assessment Highlights Value of Universities

Fredericton, NB – An economic impact assessment released by the University of New Brunswick (UNB) has students in the province applauding its recognition of the return on taxpayers’ investment in the post-secondary education system.

The study, which highlighted the positive economic impact of UNB, was undertaken by the university in collaboration with Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). It found that UNB and its students generated $1.2 billion in added income for the New Brunswick economy in 2013-14, or about 4.5% of the province’s total gross provincial product.

The money was the result of various investments including student spending, start-up companies, and alumni impact.

“The positive economic impact generated by the University of New Brunswick cannot be overstated,“ said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “$1.2 billion is not a small number. Taxpayers’ investment in the post-secondary education system – and primarily, in its students – is generating an extremely positive return.“

While this particular assessment applied only to UNB, similar results could be expected of all four New Brunswick universities. Anticipated cuts to university operating grants in the 2016-17 provincial budget could significantly reduce universities’ overall economic impact as programs, positions, and student supports are eliminated.

New Brunswick currently ranks eighth in Canada in terms of public funding to universities. The 2015-16 provincial budget put a freeze on that funding.

“The University of New Brunswick’s economic impact assessment is further proof of the value of our post-secondary education system,“ said Katie Davey, NBSA Vice-Chair.

“Students and alumni are contributing hundreds of millions of dollars to the provincial economy; an economy that is in trouble. We hope that government will recognize the value of New Brunswick’s universities in preparing the upcoming budget, and that it will support our universities by way of increased operating grants.”

Press Releases

Investment in Education Must Extend to Include Post-Secondary

Fredericton, NB – Post-secondary students in New Brunswick are urging government not to forget about them, following recent commitments to invest heavily in education and early childhood development.

The New Brunswick government has budgeted sizable amounts for education and early childhood development. Speaking at events across the province last week, Premier Brian Gallant committed his government to budgeting the most ever in the area over four years.

“We commend government for its commitment to invest in the public school system,” said Lindsay Handren, NBSA Executive Director. “However, for a growing number of New Brunswick’s youth, the pursuit of their education does not end with high school – and neither should government’s investment in them.”

New Brunswick 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.

Low levels of government support have contributed to post-secondary students in New Brunswick graduating with debt facing the highest average debt at $35,200, well above the national average of $22,300.

Upwards of 70% of jobs created in the next seven years are expected to be in occupations requiring a post-secondary degree.

“Education is a continuum, and it extends from early childhood development to graduation from a post-secondary program,” said Annie Sherry, NBSA Board Chair. “In order to ensure that New Brunswick’s youth are properly educated and prepared for the workforce, government must be willing to pay its share at every stage.“

“The accessibility, affordability, and quality of post-secondary education in New Brunswick are paramount to student success and to the success of our provincial economy. We strongly urge government to invest in that education.”

Press Releases