Earlier this week, the New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) launched its annual Advocacy Week. The NBSA is the largest student organization in the province, representing over 12,000 post-secondary students in New Brunswick. They advocate for the needs of these students, and Advocacy Week is their main way of doing this. Members of the NBSA and delegates from each university met with university and government officials over the week of November 11 – 15 to discuss their five research-based priorities for the student body. This year, they are asking the Government of New Brunswick for the following:
Student Financial Aid
The NBSA is asking for the current Tuition Tax Credit to be repurposed into “upfront, non-repayable tax grants”. They are also asking the government to implement a New Brunswick Debt Relief Program, which would forgive the New Brunswick portion of the integrated student loans up to a maximum of 20 percent per year for up to five years. To be eligible, graduates would have to be working within the province, graduate from an accredited post-secondary institution in the given time frame plus one year and be currently in repayment of an outstanding New Brunswick provincial loan. New Brunswick student loan debt is higher than the national average.
The NBSA is also asking for a cap of two percent on international tuition. International students currently pay 108% more than domestic students. They are also advocating for international tuition to be regulated through a memorandum of understanding (MOU). This would allow international students to have predictability on the financial cost of their degree and to plan accordingly. New Brunswick is the only Maritime province with declining international enrolment, so the goal of this would be to increase the international student base.
The NBSA is advocating for $1.5 million for a “reconciliation through post-secondary education” fund. This funding would be divided among the five public universities in the province to assist Indigenous students with financial and social supports, and to provide education on Indigenous history and issues to non-Indigenous students. They are also asking for Kairos Blanket Exercise training to be mandated for all Government of New Brunswick employees who work in the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Child and Youth and the Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat. This exercise teaches the history of Indigenous people in North America and colonization, helping foster cultural sensitivity.
The link to the NBSA document can be found here if readers wish to learn more about these asks. It is encouraged that all students share these asks to help increase awareness and to show the government that the needs of post-secondary students cannot be ignored.