Earlier this year the University of New Brunswick Fredericton and Saint John announced a change to the definitions of full-time and part-time students.
Before the 2019-2020 school year, a full-time student at UNB under the financial definition was a student taking a minimum of four courses, or twelve credit hours, in a term, and a part-time student was a student taking a maximum of three courses, or nine credit hours, in a term.
Now, starting in September 2019, a full-time student under the financial definition is a student taking three or more courses per term, and a part-time student is a student taking two courses or less per term.
Students were made aware of this change on August 14th, only a few weeks prior to the start of classes. No consultation process occurred and those students affected by the change face a $1,600 tuition increase.
Previously, students could take three courses and be considered full-time academically but only part-time financially, meaning they paid per course.
According to VP Academic George MacLean, UNB was the only university in the region that had a difference between the academic and financial definitions of a full-time student. Thus, this change was the result of an analysis and comparison of its tuition rates with other nearby universities.
These changes have caused issues for some UNB students, as the requirements to be eligible for UNB scholarships and bursaries remain the same. Students are required to be in at least four courses per term to apply for UNB scholarships.
Thus, students enrolled in three courses, who are now considered full-time academically and financially, must now pay full-time tuition but are not eligible for full-time scholarships and bursaries on either campus.
Although scholarships are available for part-time students, these scholarships are run by the College of Extended Learning, who offer fewer and smaller scholarships to students.
“The execution of this change to the full-time student definition reflects the lack of support for our students,” said Patrick Hickey, the President of UNB-SRC.
Students who are now considered full-time for this school year have missed the April 15 deadline to apply for scholarship and bursary support for UNB students.
Grace Mangusso, Vice President Internal on the Student Union, said the UNBSU was not consulted at any point during the decision-making process of this change.
“This does not reflect ‘positive feedback’ from the student union as we clearly understand the significant negative financial impact of this change on our peers,” said Mangusso.
Some say these changes are exploitative to students at UNB. Many students are now being obligated to pay full-time tuition while being unable to apply for full-time scholarships.
“This is a deceitful act by the university. Students decide to be part-time students for a variety of reasons. It is unfair that these students are now being forced to pay full-time tuition when they cannot afford or do not have the time to do a full-time courseload. And the fact that they cannot even apply for scholarship aid is completely unfair,” said Jordan Kean, a third-year student at the Saint John campus.
Angered students are teaming up with the Student Union to bring this to the university’s attention and to hopefully bring harmony to the academic, financial, and scholarship eligibility definitions of UNB.