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Province cuts off loans for Sprott-Shaw students

Jun 21 2012

Sprott-Shaw Community College plans to appeal a decision that will prevent students at its Victoria and Nanaimo campuses from applying for provincial student loans.

The Ministry of Advanced Education recently decided that too many of the schools' students had been defaulting on loans and would no longer be eligible for financial aid.

The decision takes effect July 31 and means that students at the two campuses will be unable to apply for loans from StudentAid B.C. for upcoming programs.

Students already enrolled and approved for financial assistance in the 2011-12 program year will be unaffected by the decision, Sprott-Shaw said in a statement.

The ministry said Wednesday that it reviews institutions that have "extraordinarily high default" rates, classified as being above 28 per cent for four years or more, every year.

The Sprott-Shaw campuses in Victoria and Nanaimo have both been above that level for the past five years.

But Maggie Harvie, Sprott-Shaw's executive vice-president, said in an interview that the campuses have had recent success reducing their default rates. The Victoria campus was at 28.3 per cent in 2011 after several years above 30 per cent.

Harvie said a number of factors can influence a default rate, including a depressed job market in a particular region and individual student responsibility.

"Those two campuses had not a lot, but enough, to put us in the red zone of students who weren't paying back their loans," she said.

She said the ministry's decision will have a "huge impact" and make it difficult for some students in Victoria and Nanaimo to obtain an education.

"That's really sad," she said. "We're a top trainer in practical nursing and health care, and those students may not be coming to school."

The colleges also train students in early childhood development, medical office training, accounting and other fields. The Victoria campus is located in the Times Colonist building at 2621 Douglas St.

More than 200 students at the two schools apply for provincial loans every year, Harvie said.

Sprott-Shaw is looking for other ways to provide financial assistance to students and has no plans to close either campus.

The college has 13 schools in B.C. as well as campuses in China, India, Philippines, South Korea and the Middle East. Parent company CIBT Education Group is based in Vancouver. lkines@timescolonist.com

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