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November 26, 2008

there’s more:

The cost of education and the long-term debt incurred by graduates are limiting post-secondary opportunities for too many New Brunswickers. Your government has assessed recent federal decisions to replace the successful Millennium Scholarships with more broadly-based financial assistance and will be responding with measures helping those students most in need of assistance.

Let’s hope this assistance goes well beyond the stop-gap measures seen thus far. Fingers crossed.

And toes.

Your government remains committed to the role played by universities in the economic, social and cultural life of our province. Working with post secondary partners, a number of important activities will be launched to ensure greater collaboration and effectiveness including boosting New Brunswick’s research and innovation capacity, increasing applied and articulated programs and creating stronger links between local communities and post-secondary institutions.

Grammar aside — how can the government remain committed to the role played by universities? They can be committed to supporting that role … — one wonders why “collaboration” and “effectiveness” are goals in and of themselves? Collaboration to what end? Effective at what? Reading on, it becomes clear that this government persists in refusing to consider any role for higher learning beyond a limited economic one. One hopes, reading the last phrase about community/institutional links, that “community” is being defined more broadly than merely the business community, but nothing they have done so far would encourage such optimism.

Your government will announce concrete steps to allow the New Brunswick Community College to reach its potential as a full partner with universities in the post-secondary education system. The creation of a modern autonomous college system will be initiated. At the same time, government will launch a substantial increase in college course offerings to provide New Brunswickers with more availability and more choice.

Wasn’t this announced over six months ago? And there were rumblings long before that that NBCC was to be let off it’s choke chain. But it’s apparently still in the “to do” pile.

There is nothing here for us. The entire post-secondary sector in this province has been chronically underfunded for years, and we in Saint John have the added burden of an unfair funding formula that our own administrators will not or can not address. We are now facing an economic downturn that has savaged our endowment and our pension plans. We need one thing from this government, and one thing alone: a commitment to fair and steady funding so that we can pursue our mandate. And that is the one thing this government refuses to provide. Instead, they are trying to impose low cost, top-down changes to that mandate to the extent that they have precipitated a crisis that has continued for over a year now. This speech perhaps indicates a lesser degree of agression than we have seen from this government in the past year, but it by no means indicates that they have any intention — indeed, any understanding — of simply doing their job, which is to enable us to do ours.


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