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A good budget for universities and students

The federal budget was a good one for universities.

President and Vice-Chancellor of Vancouver Island University, Ralph Nilson said the interest cut on student loans is good news, as is the cash injection for the Canada Training Benefit to help workers upgrade their skills and learn new ones.

There is also 40 million dollars over four years, starting in 2020, to encourage more young people to train and work in the skilled trades.

Nilson said the initiative to publicize the merit of coming to Canada to get a higher education as an international student, as well as helping post-secondary students who want to pursue opportunities to study or work abroad is a good one.

“This International Education Strategy includes the outbound student mobility pilot program, we are really quite excited about because that provides an opportunity to support students going outside Canada. But, it also is a promotion for Canada as an international choice for students and very important for VIU because we are incorporating global perspectives in learning. We welcome between 2,200 and 2,400 international students at VIU each year.”

Nilson said the 9 million dollar pledge over three years for additional bursaries and scholarships for First Nations, Metis and Inuit students is long overdue and he was pleased to see that.

There was also 114 million dollars set aside over five years to create 500 more master’s level scholarships awards every year as well as 167 more three-year doctoral scholarship awards.

Post secondary students notched a win in the Federal budget.

The Liberal government has announced the floating interest rate on student loans is being lowered to prime from its current rate of prime plus 2 and a half percentage points.

Jessica Sandy with Vancouver Island University Student’s Union said it’s something students have been working on for a number of years.

“We recently had the elimination of interest on B.C. student loans and that really made a huge impact and students were really happy about that and right after we decided we were going to start working on the elimination of interest federally. Students are really looking forward to the full elimination of interest, but any steps in that direction are good steps, I think.”

Sandy said the Knock Out Interest campaign has been calling on the feds to eliminate interest charged on student loans altogether.

Students say interest charged on student loans means those who can’t afford to pay up-front for post-secondary education are forced to pay more than those who can.

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