For Nova Scotia's students it has been a year of upheaval and uncertainty. From grade school to postsecondary, the COVID-19 pandemic has meant finding new ways to teach, to learn and to move education forward. Understandably, with the pandemic and its impacts top-of-mind, many students who planned to start or continue university studies this fall may be looking for opportunities to stay close to home—or even considering taking a year off.
As presidents of Nova Scotia's 10 universities, we represent academic communities that have spent the past several months preparing for a fall term that will no doubt be different than the usual. But if you're a student considering your options, you don't need to look far to find a safe, supportive environment to pursue a world-class education: it's right here in your own backyard.
Nova Scotia's universities are committed to providing an academic experience this fall that remains meaningful, student-focused and, above all else, safely delivered. Though each school has its own unique history, traditions and approach for course instruction for the upcoming term—online, in-person or a mixed—we are aligned in a common framework that will prioritize the health and safety of our students, faculty and staff, collaborating closely with Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang and Public Health. From enhanced cleaning to physical distancing and self-isolation procedures, students—and the communities in which they study—can be confident that Nova Scotia universities are prioritizing everyone's health and well-being.
Here in Nova Scotia, students have the choice of 10 different universities, spread from Cape Breton Island to Southwestern Nova Scotia, each with long legacies in the communities they serve. There are many very good reasons why our schools attract so many students from across Canada and around the world: Nova Scotia's universities offer world-leading expertise with a deep-seated commitment to teaching and learning that is second to none. Our incredible diversity of programming options that cover most imaginable fields of study have made Nova Scotia Canada's education capital.
What's more, students who stay in Nova Scotia to study have access to unique funding supports through the provincial government. These include the Nova Scotia University Bursary program, a $1,283 annual bursary; the Nova Scotia Student Loan Forgiveness Program, which offers up to $4,080 in loan forgiveness per year of study; and the Nova Scotia Upfront Grant, which offers up to 40% of any Nova Scotia Student Assistance funding as a non-repayable, upfront grant. Moreover, all our institutions are committed to providing financial aid and support to students in need as we work together through the realities of this pandemic.
A postsecondary education is one of the most important investments you can make in your future, particularly in times when your future feels so uncertain and disorienting. Education can provide the clarity students are searching for, a journey of personal and intellectual growth and discovery, a launchpad for hundreds of different professions and careers, and an instrument of limitless possibilities to shape our world for the better.
If you're planning on pursuing postsecondary studies, we hope you consider studying with us here in Nova Scotia. Mostly, though, we hope you push forward in your plans to study regardless of where those plans take you—it's a decision you won't regret.