Changes to UNB nursing program in Moncton raises concerns

The cancellation of the University of New Brunswick's four-year nursing program in Moncton has raised concerns in the community.

Moving 4-year degree program to Fredericton makes post-secondary education less accessible, MLA says

The cancellation of the University of New Brunswick's four-year nursing program in Moncton has raised concerns in the community.

UNB is moving the program to the Fredericton campus and the Moncton program is being replaced in the fall of 2015 with a two-year Advanced Standing Program in nursing for students who already have university credits.

Economic development consultant David Campbell says it means one less option for anglophone students who are graduating from high school.

"It's a bit disappointing," he said.

There is already a widening gap in educational performance between anglophones and francophones in the Moncton area, said Campbell. As it stands, about 19 per cent of anglophones have a university degree, compared to about 27 per cent of francophones.

"And that's partially an issue of access to university here in the community, but also the types of jobs that are available," he said.

Moncton East MLA Chris Collins agrees it will make post-secondary education less accessible when the program stops accepting students this fall.

"It's UNB's only degree-granting course — four year program — so taxpayers from Moncton are paying into UNB but they're not getting very many benefits from UNB," he said.

May hurt hospital recruiting

Collins is also worried losing the local program will hurt the ability of the two local hospitals to recruit graduates.

"This is an opportunity that we had to educate students in Moncton, perhaps even from Moncton, that couldn't afford to go outside the city for this education, and have a really good chance of keeping them here in Moncton," he said. "And now, we're going to have to go to Fredericton to recruit, as well as Saint John."

Collins says he plans to raise his concerns in the legislature next week.

Meanwhile, Mark Vale and his fiancee are wondering what it all means for them.

Vale is a second-year student in the program, but his fiancee was turned down when she applied last year and has spent this year upgrading in hopes of being accepted for September.

The education that they provide is superior to anything I've ever even fathomed and they're going to pull the plug on it? It just makes no sense.- Mark Vale, second-year nursing student

Vale says many people are in the same situation.

"They're all upgrading and then, for next year, it's no longer offered, so they're putting all this time and money into something that they're no longer going to be able to attain, basically, unless they move to Fredericton," he said.

"I was so fortunate to get in because the program is amazing. I couldn't believe it. The education that they provide is superior to anything I've ever even fathomed and they're going to pull the plug on it? It just makes no sense."

UNB Faculty of Nursing Dean Gail Storr says the university will offer the two-year advanced standing program. It will accept students who already have some university credits.

"The issue of students being able to come from high school directly into the program  that is still available in other sites. What we're doing is making a different undergraduate program available in Moncton," she said.

"We think that we can really talk about Moncton as a magnet site, if you will, in terms of nursing education because this is going to be very, very attractive to many students."

Vale says if his his fiancee is accepted into the four-year program in Fredericton, he will try to transfer.

UNB's nursing program in Bathurst is also being phased out. The class of 2017 will be the last.