The New Brunswick Student Alliance (NBSA) says it is happy to see the 2023-24 provincial budget take steps towards supporting post-secondary students.
The budget included an increase to the Student Financial Assistance program by $7.6 million through their loans and bursary programs.
The province also announced a permanent two per cent increase to the operating grant and an additional 1.5 per cent based on enrollment.
“This budget, it means a lot for students in New Brunswick,” said Sydona Chandon, the executive director of the NB Student Alliance.
“Because we’ve been seeing where inflation has really affected students, especially with the cancellation last year of the NBEI grant,” Chandon said.
The New Brunswick Student Alliance says it is pleased the province is investing in post-secondary education and hopes it will increase growth and opportunity within New Brunswick.
“I feel it’s important for retention to see investments directly in programs,” said St. Thomas University student Julie Evans.
“In all education programs, but especially in health care given the current state of our province.”
Inadequate funding from the government often results in an increase in tuition and university fees, which places a financial burden on students.
“A lot of our university students will be able to have money back in their pockets,” said Chandon.
“They won’t have to face a dramatic increase in tuition because now the universities will have more funding to sustain themselves.”
But the student groups say there’s more the government could do to alleviate the financial burdens on post-secondary students.
“When the government is developing housing plans in the future, they take consideration and acknowledgment that the student demographic is a separate demographic with a specific need,” Evans said.
“There’s financial barriers associated with being a post-secondary education student rather than just lumping us in with general society.”
NBSA works with government and stakeholders, advocating for a post-secondary education system where any student can attain an accessible, affordable and equitable quality of life.
“We’d love to see the government account for inflation going forward with the operating grants and with financial support for students,” Chandon said.
The New Brunswick Student alliance says they’re hoping the government will make investments in the future specifically towards post-secondary students’ mental health.