‘Status quo budget’ for post-secondary students

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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MUN president approves of document

There was some positives for post-secondary students in Budget 2012, but not quite enough for Jessica McCormick.

Even though tuition remained frozen and the province kept status quo on grants and interest-free loans, the Newfoundland and Lab-rador chairwoman of the Canadian Federation of Students was looking for more.

The government promised more grants before the election, she explained, and the federation is waiting for that.

“It’s a status quo budget in terms of post-secondary education, and we look forward to working with the minister to expand the grants program and make it more accessible in the coming years,” McCormick said.

“We do need to see some movement within the mandate. The grants program needs to be expanded in the next three years, so it’s a matter of when they’re going to do it.”

One measure to reduce post-secondary debt in Tuesday’s budget was an increase to the amount of money a student can earn without penalty during a study period.

They can now make $100 a week without affecting their loan or grant — double the previous amount.

That measure, along with the tuition freeze and the continued grants and loans, comprised a $66 million expenditure.

Other post-secondary budget commitments include expanded programming at Marine Institute and the expansion of Memorial's faculty of engineering.

As well, there will be continued construction and maintenance of university residences in St. John's and Corner Brook, and infrastructure improvements at MUN and College of the North Atlantic.

These contributions total about $70 million.

MUN president Gary Kachanoski called it “another really good budget for the university,” especially in light of the fiscal situation other Canadian schools find themselves in.

“It was probably one of the better budgets for universities anywhere in the country,” he said.

Last week, Kachanoski told the Rotary Club of St. John’s that doubling the size of the engineering

faculty and accommodating growth at the Marine Institute were among the university’s goals.

He also told the service club MUN will need a 300,000-square-foot building, at a cost of about $250 million, to house applied science and engineering programs.

While the budget addressed the engineering and Marine Institute goals, it didn’t foot the bill for the new building, though government did pledge to work with MUN on priorities and begin the planning process.

Asked if MUN got everything it was looking for, Kachanoski replied, “I think we got everything we needed. ...

“We’ve been given the additional resources to move forward on both the planning for infrastructure and the growth in our key priority programs that we put forward.”

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Twitter: @SteveBartlett_

Organizations: MUN and College of the North Atlantic.These, Marine Institute, Newfoundland and Lab Canadian Federation of Students Rotary Club

Geographic location: St. John's, Corner Brook

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