More funding for bursaries that will help low-income students become nurses is a game changer for students, says a dean at Red Deer Polytechnic.
On Wednesday, the province announced that $8.5-million more will flow to the New Beginnings Bursary so up to 1,700 nursing students will be eligible for the one-time, non-repayable $5,000 bursary.
“This is huge. I think we’ll get a lot of students who may not have normally been able to come here to attend post secondary for nursing with this bursary. It will reduce a lot of barriers,” said Sharon Hamilton, dean of the School of Community Wellness and Health at RDP.
”I can only imagine how excited new students and current students will be about this.”
She said RDP has some bursaries for nursing students, but not many, and there is a multitude of students who struggle financially and are here on loans.
The bursary may also be a fairly simple process to qualify for which is another barrier that will be removed, she added.
The New Beginnings Bursary was created in 2022 to increase access to post-secondary education for those with financial constraints. The bursary began supporting students in the 2022-23 academic year.
By the end of the 2023-24 academic year, 3,400 low-income students will have benefited from the bursary, at a total investment of $17 million.
Alberta Student Aid will deliver funding to recipients who meet the eligibility criteria and have approved student loan and grant funding applications during the 2022-23 loan year.
The province says it is committed to making sure Albertans get the care they need, when and where they need it. That includes making sure there are more opportunities for more students.
“Health care needs continue to grow in our province and we need more local professionals familiar with the challenges in their area. By increasing education opportunities for Albertans, we improve the chances of retaining home-grown talent,” said Health Minister Jason Copping, in a statement.
Last year, Alberta’s government created nearly 2,500 new seats in health-related programs to help address the high demand for nurses and health-care professionals. Other initiatives include expanded training for internationally educated nurses and funding micro-credential programs in health-care fields.