Nova Scotia’s budget does some amazing things for students. It reduces tuition by more than $1,000 per year. It institutes a debt cap, making sure that nobody gets in too deep. It even adds to textbook credits and improves the earning allowance.
And the province had better keep up the good work, or they won’t have any students left to serve. More than 60 per cent of the province’s population is over 30 years old and post-secondary enrolment is dropping steadily from year to year.
Ask the province’s student organizations what the reason is and they point to one thing: Out-migration to escape debt.
The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations wrote to provincial MLAs this year:
“A 2009 survey of over 1,500 students done by the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations suggested that students with over $26,000 in debt were 20 per cent more likely to leave the province after graduation.”
Studies have consistently said that students saddled with enormous debt loads at graduation are less likely to contribute to the wider economy by buying a house or a car.
Nova Scotia’s budget is wisely trying to stem the tide of students heading out of province to study and, afterward, work. In doing so, they’re trying to save their own economic future. Expect this to be the first salvo in a running war to convince students to not only study in Nova Scotia, but also build their lives there.