AUGUSTA, Maine – The leaders of the Maine Community College System and the New Brunswick Community College Network signed an agreement last Friday enabling residents of the region to enroll in programs of study offered by local community colleges on both sides of the border.
The agreement will make it possible for Maine residents to enroll in programs that are not available at Maine’s community colleges including international business, international tourism, vocational forestry, and agriculture. It will also enable Maine residents to study at one of five French-speaking institutions in the province.
Under the agreement, Maine students will be able to take courses at 11 different institutions in New Brunswick and do so at in-country rates, which are comparable to the cost of in-state tuition at Maine’s community colleges. As a result, a Maine student who completes a two-year course of study at a New Brunswick community college will pay about half the tuition costs of other international students, a savings of more than $4,000 over those two years.
The agreement was signed Feb. 9 at Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor at a ceremony attended by Maine Gov. John E. Baldacci and New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham.
In signing the agreement, Dr. John Fitzsimmons, president of the Maine Community College System, noted that the new partnership will expand access to higher education options throughout eastern and northern Maine and will do so without cost to the state.
“This is an exciting and innovative collaboration, one that offers a whole new array of programs to the students of Maine without additional state investment,” he said. “I think this is an historic agreement between our two systems. It’s remarkable when you think about it … we have 610 miles of a common border and 12 border crossings, yet sometimes it seems like we’re 1,000 miles apart.
“If I look at my own System, when it comes to partnering with other higher education institutions, we look within our state and south,” said Fitzsimmons, “and I expect New Brunswick traditionally looks west. We’ve realized that some of the best partnerships may be us looking north and them looking south. We have a lot in common and now we can have a chance to do something that’s mutually beneficial.”
Programs of study at New Brunswick’s community colleges will be open to Maine residents on a space available basis beginning in the fall of 2007. Maine residents will be able to complete coursework at one of the six English-speaking campuses of the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC) in Fredericton, Miramichi, Moncton, St. Andrews, Saint John and Woodstook.
They will also have access to programming at the five French-speaking institutions of the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (CCNB) located in Edmundston, Campbellton, Bathurst, Dieppe and the Péninsule Acadienne.
Some of the 68 programs of study available in New Brunswick include aircraft technology, electronic games and 3D graphics, pharmacy technology, international business, graphic arts, and respiratory therapy.
In addition, New Brunswick students will be able to study at either NMCC in Presque Isle or Washington County Community College in Calais, also on a space available basis, and will pay in-state tuition rates.
“We think this will attract students to the programs that have availability, and it will expand the opportunity for students on both sides of the border to experience programs that they otherwise may not,” said NMCC President Timothy Crowley. “In rural areas, it’s difficult to bring in new programs for short periods of time, but our campus, as well as the campuses in Woodstook, Edmundston, Miramichi and St. Andrews, have some very unique programs that are not available in other places and we think this will give Maine people the opportunity to participate in some of those programs.
“This is another chance for us to better serve the people of our region of the state by giving them new opportunities,” he said.
“Both in northern Maine and in Washington County, while we have programs that are at maximum capacity, we have other programs that have been traditionally under-enrolled,” he said. “This becomes an excellent vehicle for us to fill those classes, bring in a little additional revenue, and utilize the faculty and their talents to the utmost.”
The students on both sides of the border aren’t the only ones who will benefit from the new partnership.
“This will give our faculty a chance to talk to people who are doing similar things in other parts of the region,” said Crowley. “I think that will have a tremendous benefit.”
The Maine Community College System is Maine’s comprehensive two-year college system offering over 300 career and transfer programs, continuing education and customized training for business and industry. Currently, over 11,000 students are enrolled in degree programs. Additional information about the Maine Community College System is available at www.mccs.me.edu/.
Information about the New Brunswick Community College Network is available on the Web sites of the New Brunswick Community College (www.nbcc.ca/default.asp) and the Collège Communautaire du Nouveau-Brunswick (collegecommunautaire.ccnb.nb.ca/).
Additional information about the agreement, including a preliminary list of programs that will be available to both Maine and New Brunswick residents in 2007-2008, is available at www.mccs.me.edu/about/nbcccompact.html.
Maine students interested in learning more about the opportunities available through this new agreement are encouraged to contact the admissions offices at NMCC (207-768-2700 or www.nmcc.edu) and WCCC (207-454-1000 or www.wccc.me.edu).
Fitzsimmons said it’s important to spread the message about the new partnership.
“We need to make sure that it’s known by people on both sides of the border,” he said. “We will make it available at all seven of our colleges and our Web site, so students who have an interest will know that it’s available.
“We also plan to communicate directly with every school in the state of Maine and let students know that we have some new options for them to consider,” said Fitzsimmons. “We’ll do our best to make sure people on our side know what’s available. We’re talking about literally tens of millions of dollars in programming that’s now available to Maine people without us having to invest in putting up those exact programs. It’s a phenomenal savings to our state and a wonderful opportunity to Maine residents.”
The System president said he’s pleased that the model for the partnership is focused on the students.
“We have built this model around the students first and the institutions second,” said Fitzsimmons, noting that prospective students can apply now for the fall 2007 term.