As expected, yesterday’s provincial budget included a one-year tuition freeze in New Brunswick. The reining Liberals boosted post-secondary education funding by $12 million to help ease the financial crunch resulting from the freeze at the province’s four universities.
Despite this, New Brunswick will continue to be the second most expensive place to study in Canada. The average undergraduate tuition fee for Canadian full-time students in New Brunswick is $5,733. It’s $5,878 in Nova Scotia.
“New Brunswick is the province with the lowest percentage of people who have completed at least some post-secondary education in all of Canada,” Finance Minister Victor Boudreau said. “That must change.”
Education and health funding announcements were the lone winners in a relatively skimpy budget that is meant to demonstrate caution while lawmakers watch the unstable economy.
New Brunswick is expected to make significant changes to its post-secondary system. Those announcements will follow the completion of final recommendations from a working group of university presidents and college principals this spring. New Brunswick, along with other eastern provinces, will be among the first parts of the country to experience declining enrolment as the number of university-aged people begins to fall, as forecast by StatsCan.
The working group’s initial recommendations were met with controversy when they were released earlier this year. In particular, a recommendation to merge satellite campuses with colleges to make polytechnic schools was loudly protested and the government backed off implementing that change.