Funding cut and tuition to rise in Nova Scotia

Presidents and student groups complain

University presidents and student groups in Nova Scotia are angry about a new three-year funding agreement that includes a three per cent funding cut and a three per cent tuition rise, which is roughly equivalent to annual inflation.

After a four per cent cut last year, plus inflation, there is now a $75-million hole in budgets system-wide, John Harker, chairman of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and president of Cape Breton University told the Chronicle Herald.

The Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students called the agreement “disappointing.” In a release, chair Maxime Audet said this: “tuition fee increases coupled with reductions in government funding means students in Nova Scotia will be paying more and getting less.”

Audet noted that the province is “bleeding Nova Scotia students to Newfoundland and Labrador due to their low tuition fees,” a story that was covered in the 2011 Maclean’s University Rankings.

Marilyn More, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Advanced Education, said the cut in funding is necessary. “What we’re trying to do is to balance the accessibility and affordability of post-secondary education in this province with the ability of the taxpayer to pay it,” More told CBC News.

Nova Scotia’s university system is unique in Canada because 40 per cent of students originate from other provinces, making it a major export industry, according to the book Academic Reform. Nova Scotia’s system is also top-heavy with 11 degree-granting institutions that serve just 35,000 full-time students. Compare that to York University with 40,000 full-time students and one administration.

Nova Scotia also has one of the highest average tuition rates in Canada, despite regulation. It was the most expensive until 2008-09 when fees were rolled back somewhat and Ontario took the title.

After the three per cent increase in 2012-13, Nova Scotia’s tuition will average around $5,900. That’s $200 less than the 2007-08 average and on par with tuition in Saskatchewan, Alberta and neighbouring New Brunswick, but much higher than the average fees in Newfoundland and Quebec.