Decision to revise N.B. university bursary program panned by opposition, students
Published Wednesday, April 10, 2019 9:41PM ADT
There was a mixed response Wednesday to changes in the government assistance provided to New Brunswick university students.
On campuses across New Brunswick, students are doing the new math, and some say, it doesn't add up.
“Now, students will receive a maximum of $3,000,” said Emily Blue of the New Brunswick Student Alliance. “No students will be able to receive free tuition, because tuition in the province is higher than that.”
The so-called “free tuition” for eligible students was introduced by the previous Liberal government with much fanfare. This week, the Conservative government chose a different direction for student support.
“There's lots of funding in place, I would argue,” said Post-Secondary Education Minister Trevor Holder. “We brought back the tuition tax credit as well; we're looking for balance here.”
Though even the tax credit is a target for student criticism.
“Tax credits have been shown time and time again to do nothing to improve access to post-secondary,” said Brianna Workman of the St. Thomas University Student Union. “If you're a student coming from a low-income family, getting that tax credit down the road does very little to get you in the door.”
The government is extending its student bursary program to include the private sector -- a move welcomed at institutions like Kingswood University.
“I think it will enable some students to come, who would have been challenged to do so,” said Kingswood University president Steve Lennox. “They would have been choosing between attending here, or not attending, or perhaps going out of province. But this will give students an opportunity to do what they could not have done otherwise.”
But critics say, the new bursary program will not make up for the loss of no-cost tuition.
“How would you feel if you're going to university, it's your second year of university, you had free tuition in the first year and all of a sudden, in mid-stream the government says, ‘no more free tuition, you gotta start paying up?’” said Liberal MLA Guy Arseneault.
The Green Party is also objecting to the changes in tuition. Party leader David Coon says some of the students who enrolled last year under the so-called free tuition program, may be forced to drop out of university this year.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mike Cameron.