June 18, 2009

Public Post-Secondary Education System Gets Top Marks

Newfoundland and Labrador has a student aid program that is the envy of students and institutions nation-wide, tuition that is among the lowest in the country, individuals and teams taking top spots at international competitions, and post-secondary instructors and educators who are at the top of their professions.

The Honourable Darin King, Minister of Education, noted today the many advances and success stories happening in the public post-secondary education system while speaking to graduates of College of the North Atlantic in St. John�s.

"Congratulations to all graduates of 2009, from both College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University," said Minister King. "To support our institutions and our up-coming students and graduates � the trail blazers of tomorrow � we are making unprecedented investments, recognizing the value of education for individual success and the success of our province overall."

This year alone, $437 million will be invested in the public post-secondary system, a 76 per cent increase since 2003. This includes strategic investments in student aid that have positioned Newfoundland and Labrador as having one of the most affordable and accessible post-secondary systems in the country.

For example, since 2005, $71 million has been invested to continue the freeze on tuition rates at public post-secondary institutions. The Williams Government further advanced the student aid package in Budget 2009 with the elimination of interest on the provincial portion of student loans, the first government in Canada to do so. The change is effective August 1 and will benefit 49,000 people who are in the process of repayment.

"Not only is our education system affordable and accessible, there is evidence of the quality of our programming all around us," said Minister King. "We see it in the achievements of our students, instructors, and faculty, as well as in the performance and reputation of both College of the North Atlantic and Memorial University on the national and international stage."

Scores of faculty and instructors are making their mark in research activity. Memorial University�s research income grew by 116.7 per cent between 2002 and 2007, the highest of any post-secondary institution in the country. College of the North Atlantic is making a name for itself as well with clients from as far and wide as Brazil, China, India, Jamaica, Libya, Mexico and Vietnam. The college�s Qatar campus is the largest technical institute in the State of Qatar, employing 650 Canadian faculty and staff, and has an enrollment of over 4,000 part-time and full-time students.

Over the past three years, MUN�s Students in Free Enterprise team have represented Canada at the international competition, bringing home gold last year. College of the North Atlantic students in skills training programs are also demonstrating their expertise on the national front. Students brought home four medals from the national Skills Canada Competition, including a gold medal in graphic design.

"These are just some examples of the successes in our education system," said Minister King. "As the recently released CareerSearch 2008 indicates, graduates are finding employment and the majority are doing so within the province. These students have benefitted from a top-rate education and are now contributing their skills to the economic and social growth of communities big and small. Clearly, an investment in education truly is an investment in the future of Newfoundland and Labrador."

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Media contact:

Jacquelyn Howard
Director of Communications
Department of Education
709-729-0048, 689-2624

2009 06 18                                                       2:15 p.m.

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