News Release Archive

EDUCATION/CULTURE--Report Confirms Need to Reduce Student Debt
Education and Culture Minister Robbie Harrison says a Maritime
report on accessibility to post-secondary education gives him the
facts and figures he needs to push Ottawa for a program to reduce
student debt.

The Report on Accessibility to Post-Secondary Education, released
today by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission
(MPHEC), shows most students are still prepared to pay what it
takes to continue their education because it's their best route
to a good job. That finding reflects the Nova Scotia experience,
where post-secondary enrolments have grown over the past number
of years.

However, student debt and rising costs are growing issues,
particularly for students from lower-income families. Mr.
Harrison said Ottawa must act now before a university or college
education climbs out of reach.

"We must continue to encourage all students to consider the
advantages that come with a post-secondary education," said the
minister. "We cannot allow financial concerns to get in the way,
and I want students to know we're working hard with the federal
government to address the problem.

"Reducing student debt is not just a Nova Scotia or Maritime
issue. It is a national issue --and it must become a national

The minister is encouraged by recent federal initiatives such as
the Canadian Millennium Scholarship Fund, Special Opportunities
Grants for students with dependents, and targeted tax relief.
However, Nova Scotia is pushing Ottawa to establish a federal
loan forgiveness program similar to a provincial student loan
forgiveness program. 

"Nova Scotia is putting more than $5 million back into the hands
of eligible students this year," said Mr. Harrison. "Over a
four-year program, this kind of return reduces student debt to
the tune of about $7,000, or 70 per cent of the provincial
portion of a student's loan. This is a big help for students, and
we're asking the federal government to get on board."

Mr. Harrison congratulated MPHEC on the comprehensiveness of
their report. "It helps us build our case with Ottawa, but it
also can help shape our programs and policies. We're inviting
students to sit down with us, take a look at the details, and see
what it tells us about what we are or should be doing in Nova

For example, the report shows efforts must go beyond the debt
issue. More counselling of students needs to take place at the
high school level to enable them to understand the commitment
they are making. As well, students expect a good-paying job when
they graduate, and programs must be in place to help make that

This year, the provincial government expanded its student
internship program (Nova Scotia Links) and co-operative
education. Almost 90 per cent of post-secondary students who
participate in co-op education find jobs within six months of


Contact: Catherine MacIsaac
         Education and Culture

         Doug Hadley
         Education and Culture

NOTE TO EDITORS: To arrange to speak with Mr. Harrison this
afternoon, please call either of the above numbers.

ngr                 Nov. 12, 1997               12:05 p.m.