The province’s 11 universities will get 3% less money than they received for this academic year.
Nova Scotia marches to its own tune as the only province in the country to decrease base funding for post-secondary education in recent years.
After reducing the annual operating grant by four per cent in the April 2011 provincial budget, the government has now announced a new deal for Nova Scotia universities that includes a further reduction of 3.1 per cent for the coming school year.
The Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents said the 2012– 2013 cut to the system announced Jan. 5 in a three-year memorandum of understanding translates into about $33 million when inflation is taken into account. Base funding for the province’s 11 universities is $324 million for 2012–2013.
Marilyn More, the provincial Minister of Advanced Education, said in a press release the cuts in
funding are necessary to ensure “we all live within our means.”
Over the life of the agreement, universities will also be able to compete for funding under a newly-created Excellence and Innovation Program on the basis of showing operating cost reductions through new efficiencies.
Faculty and students unanimously condemned the province’s scorched earth approach to higher education.
“Rather than pursuing a prudent and proven strategy of investing in post-secondary education as other Canadian provinces are doing to weather uncertain economic times, the government’s cost-cutting measures only serve to undermine further the quality and accessibility of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia,” said Chris Ferns, the president of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers.
Ferns said he’s also concerned the memorandum allows annual tuition increases of three per cent for in-province students. Tuition fees for students in medicine, dentistry, and law are deregulated as are fees for international students.
Maxime Audet, chair of the Nova Scotia chapter of the Canadian Federation of Students, said the announcement will see students suffer.
“Tuition fee increases coupled with reductions in government funding means students in Nova Scotia will be paying more and getting less,” she said.
The memorandum also provides for “a review of tuition-related policies,” including the possibility of deregulating tuition for out-of-province students.
“Students from other provinces currently pay $1,000 more than students from Nova Scotia to attend university in the province,” Audet added.
According to Statistics Canada, average undergraduate tuition fees in Nova Scotia are $5,731, and one of the highest among the provinces.