The University of Halifax will focus on studying for young adults in private care
The new program at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax aims to make it easier for people who have grown up in a foster care system to receive post-secondary education.
MSVU announced on Monday that it was deducting tuition fees and other fees for former caregivers.
The pilot program, which begins in January for up to ten students, is the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, according to the university.
There is no age limit for applying, which is important, says Jane Kovarikova, who grew up in a child care program in Ontario and later formed the Children’s Political Action Committee in Canada.
He has been working with MSVU to launch the program, which has already been launched in other provinces.
“Many young people, when they leave the care system, end up facing … poverty, homelessness or housing instability, sometimes as a parent at an early age,” Kovarikova told CBC Radio’s Information Morning.
“It can take a while to make your life better before you are ready for post-secondary education, which is why I love the MSVU program, because there are no age limits. It recognizes those challenges.”
He said about 60 percent of the young people in care ended up dropping out of school like him. They also often change schools, which could put them back in school.
Kovarikova said going back to school after years could be difficult – from filling out forms with parental knowledge to teaching subjects.
“I was lucky because my biological grandfather came forward and I ended up paying for my undergraduate studies,” he said. “But you just can’t, like, rely on … luck or grandma, do you?”
100% of the combined courses
The MSVU program is open to graduates who have been raising children for at least one year. And they have to meet the process of the program they want to get into.
Participants in the program will have 100% of their combined tuition, as well as compulsory fees, including recreation and student union funding. The plan does not currently cover the cost of living.
Staff at the university will help students in the program “apply their knowledge of MSVU – from graduation program to graduation,” the university said in a statement.
Staff will make sure that students are aware of other resources that can help them throughout their qualifications.
Julie McMullin, vice president of education and provost for MSVU, said the program was well-suited for the university.
“We were created by women, for women, at a time when women did not have access – or at least a lot of access – to higher education. So it is about providing access to the people who need it,” she said.
He said the university already had a high number of students from disadvantaged groups.
“This is partly because we provide a personal and supportive environment that allows students with different needs to succeed,” he said.
McMullin said the university would determine how many people were interested in the pilot program in January and would review the number of existing school recesses by September 2021.