The P.E.I. government wants more Island high school students to consider staying home to get their post-secondary education.
A further incentive for students to do so was unveiled Monday afternoon as Premier Robert Ghiz announced a 10 per cent increase to the George Coles Bursary for first-time Island students pursuing post-secondary education on Prince Edward Island, effective immediately.
Ghiz made the announcement in a theatre full of grades 11 and 12 students at Charlottetown Rural High School.
“Thank you for letting us interrupt your classes,” the premier said, drawing laughter from the students.
The announcement follows up on a commitment made during the spring sitting of the provincial legislature when the government announced it would increase the bursary’s value.
The increase is a step in the right direction, said Allen Roach, minister of innovation and advanced learning.
“An increase to the bursary is another example of government’s commitment to ensuring high-quality, post-secondary education is accessible here in Prince Edward Island.”
It is important to encourage Island students to stay home to get their post-secondary education, Roach said.
“Studies show a strong correlation between where students study and where they work post graduation, and we want to keep these bright, skilled students here in our province.”
The increase means Island students entering post-secondary education on Prince Edward Island on a full-time basis will receive $2,200 in the second semester of their first year, which is up from the original $2,000 award established in 2008.
In total, UPEI students will automatically receive up to $5,200 in awards and bursaries based on a four-year undergraduate program.
The money also includes a $2,000 George Coles Graduation Scholarship, which is given to UPEI students in their final year before completing their first undergraduate degree, as previously announced by the provincial government in April’s budget.
Island students attending college on a full-time basis are eligible for up to $4,200 for a two-year program depending on tuition: The $2,200 George Coles Bursary, along with the Island Skills Award valued at $1,000 for each year.
Education is essential to a student’s success, said Education Minister Alan McIsaac.
“We believe that education is the key to building a stronger society and a more prosperous economy, and we believe in the importance of preparing students for success in their lives and careers.”
The bursary increase follows the provincial government’s announcement in August that it will eliminate interest on all provincial student loans.
The government is committed to helping Island students, Ghiz said.
“The government of Prince Edward Island prides itself on investments in education and will continue to ensure high-quality education is accessible and affordable. Building a trained and educated workforce is essential to meeting the needs of our economic reality.”