Report: Not Enough Attention Paid to NSCC Students
For Immediate Release
Halifax, NS – A groundbreaking report released this morning by Students Nova Scotia argues for changes for the Province and the NSCC to better support NSCC students and strengthen their voices. Fees, Funding and Student Voice at the Nova Scotia Community College examines fee and funding levels, financial assistance and governance, arguing for steps to ensure the NSCC delivers on its mandate.
“This report demonstrates that NSCC students are paying attention and are determined to have a voice in our College and in our Province”, said StudentsNS VP College Affairs Scott Byrne. “We’re calling for change to control students’ costs and improve financial assistance, enhance transparency and accountability, and ensure NSCC students have a meaningful say.”
The report shows that College students’ financial circumstances are more challenging than commonly thought. Tuition has risen faster at the NSCC than at Nova Scotia’s universities in the past ten years. Government efforts to reduce debt levels have been focused overwhelmingly on undergraduates, even though college graduates earn significantly less than their university counterparts and have default rates on Canada Student Loans that are almost twice as high, equaling 21% in 2012. To address these challenges, the report recommends a tuition-freeze, improved grants and greater efforts to inform students about the student assistance program.
“NSCC students’ financial challenges, especially debt levels, have been given short shrift in comparison with undergraduates’ and that doesn’t make sense”, said StudentsNS President Brandon Hamilton. “Just last week the Minister announced another debt-reduction program that will bypass NSCC students. The Province must pay more attention to ensuring NSCC students can afford to complete their programs and reduce the unacceptable rate of loan defaults.”
The report also argues for stable and adequate funding coupled with greater transparency and accountability. It finds that the terms of year-to-year funding agreements between the province and the college are not sufficiently publicized, nor is data on the student body, data used for determining program capacity or graduate outcomes survey results.
“The Province and the College should take modest steps to enhance transparency in financial decision-making and the general operations of the college,” said Byrne. “At present it is unnecessarily difficult for an outsider to inform themselves on the NSCC’s direction in terms of its finances, enrolment and programming.”
Finally, the report notes that community college students are not adequately engaged in decision-making at the NSCC, again especially in comparison with university students. It recommends more regular engagement with government, the overall college, and campus-level decision-making groups.
The Report was prepared by StudentsNS staff members Jonathan Williams and Danielle Andres, with work initiated in April 2014. It is available with summaries and factsheets at http://studentsns.ca/fees-funding-and-student-voice-at-the-nova-scotia-community-college/
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Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy and research group that represents post-secondary students from across Nova Scotia. Our members include Acadia, Cape Breton, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.
For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Williams, Executive Director
Phone: 902 483 5480
Scott Byrne, VP College Affairs
Phone: 902 300 5038