Friday, February 1, 2008

Saint John Board of Trade pleased with Premier Graham's announcement that Community Colleges will run independently & UNBSJ will remain as a university

SAINT JOHN, NB: The Saint John Board of Trade is very pleased with Premier Graham's announcement last evening at the State of the Province dinner, that UNBSJ will remain as a university and will become a "Centre of Excellence" for applied courses in the province. The Board is also pleased to see that the Community Colleges will run independently and be removed from government.

"This is a tremendous announcement from Premier Graham and Minister Doherty," said Nathalie Godbout, Chair of the Saint John Board of Trade. "We are very encouraged with this renewed commitment to existing programs at UNBSJ, as well as to focused growth in applied learning in response to emerging economic opportunities."

The Board of Trade is also pleased that government will see the creation of a new Commission, designed to review the relationship between the UNB campuses in Fredericton and Saint John, and would propose to play a key role in providing feedback and guidance to this Commission. In particular, the Board remains concerned that there be a timely response to Post-Secondary Education reform on matters of both governance and funding for UNBSJ.

The Board of Trade looks forward to the report that will be forthcoming from the Premier?s Working Group, comprised of university presidents and community college principals, to include more comprehensive recommendations on cooperation between universities and community colleges, new approaches to apprenticeship training, and reducing student debt.

"As I mentioned back in October 2007, education is our future. These new announcements suggest that we are moving in the right direction to ensure the business community is prepared for the anticipated economic growth in our region. We need an accessible, innovative, quality post-secondary framework to reinforce and retain workforce development right here in our city," said Godbout.

The Board of Trade is also encouraged by the other initiatives and benchmarks mentioned in the Premier?s speech. "Our region is significantly impacted by the crisis unfolding in the forestry sector. We are encouraged that the provincial government is consulting with the foremost experts on this issue in order to respond appropriately," said Godbout.

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