Research and policy are the cornerstone of all of StudentsNS’ efforts, as we strive to better understand the challenges that students face and generate policy solutions for those challenges. The post-secondary system in Nova Scotia is difficult to navigate and understand, and information is often very difficult to find. StudentsNS is doing its part to remedy this problem, and we hope our site can be a resource for all who are interested.
Our Position Papers represent our most significant research outcomes. They provide detailed but approachable overviews of issues affecting post-secondary students in Nova Scotia and constitute formal Students Nova Scotia policy, indicating recommended actions primarily for the provincial government to implement in pursuit of StudentsNS’ four values. Each Position Paper contains a resolution at the end, including principles, concerns and recommendations, which remains valid for five years from the end of the year they are approved. Students Nova Scotia’s staff and board are required to respect Position Paper resolutions in all communications and advocacy efforts.
The Position Papers to be prepared each year are identified by the Board of Directors in the Annual Plan. Researchers host some student consultations (focus groups, surveys, etc.) depending on a project’s particular research methodology, but the Student Assemblies concept has been developed in particular to ensure the larger student body participates in policy development. Position Paper drafts are released for comment one month before the Board of Directors makes final decisions on approving or amending policy.
StudentsNS staff members are primarily responsible for preparing Position Papers, but board members are invited to be co-authors and reviewers in each case. Other individuals from outside StudentsNS may also assist with preparation or review on a case-by-case basis.
StudentsNS also releases pre-budget submissions each year in January-March. These documents summarize a selection of the organization’s top priorities for provincial government expenditures, as the Minister of Finance prepares the government’s budget for the subsequent year.
StudentsNS research is not limited to position papers and pre-budget submissions. The organization works on additional projects to support its members, often in support of different campaigns. Some of these projects may be undertaken by external consultants, providing independent advice.
Beyond our own research, we also have a library on our site with links to other sources.
StudentsNS works hard to include a multitude of voices and interests in its research, including different elements of the student body as well as experts from civil society, universities and government. Please see our public drafts page to provide feedback or our current projects page to find out what we are working on and to contact our researchers.
StudentsNS strives at all times to be rigorous and truthful in its research. Manipulating research to win short-term political gains undercuts credibility and effectiveness in the long term, can lead to adverse policy outcomes, and cheapens public debate. We also have a particular responsibility, as our research helps to educate and shape the views of the student body, which is constantly cycling through the system with each cohort learning about post-secondary often for the first time. Students’ understanding of post-secondary may affect their choice of where to study, what to study, what they can afford, and whether they should persist in completing their degree—decisions with enormous implications for their life-paths. StudentsNS believes it is their role to provide these students with as accurate a picture as we can.