News Release Archive

Maritime students are already hurting from cuts to federal
government transfer payments for education, and unless action is
taken the pain will get worse. That's the view of the interim
chair of the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission
(MPHEC), Dr. David Cameron.

"Our students are being hurt by higher tuition costs, they are
burdened with increased debt, and now they are also facing
threats to access and mobility," said Dr. Cameron, a political
science professor at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Cameron, who will present an MPHEC report to the senate
sub-committee on post-secondary education in Halifax next week,
said federal transfer payments for post-secondary education have
lagged behind inflation since the mid-1980s. As a result average
annual tuition jumped from $1,700 to $2,700 between 1984 and

At the same time, he said students have seen money available for
bursaries dry up. In 1982-83, a majority of Maritime students
received student aid averaging $2,700 a year, of which $900 was a
non-refundable bursary. By 1994-95, Maritime students typically
received $5,800 in aid per year, all of it loans except for an
average $300 bursary in New Brunswick.

Dr. Cameron said the bottom line for students is that in 1983,
they would have graduated from a four-year program with an
average debt of $7,200. A 1995 student could well face a debt of
more than $22,000.

As universities and provincial governments struggle to make do
with less, students face challenges in their access to education
and training.

"First of all," he said, "there's the cost - that's going to be a
barrier to many young people who should be going to university.
Now, in an effort to save money, some Canadian provinces are
making other moves that are going to put up more barriers."

The MPHEC is currently undertaking a study of barriers to
post-secondary education. The study is scheduled for completion
in April.

Dr. Cameron said that among the changes being taken, or
considered, in some provinces are charging higher fees to
out-of-province students and providing student aid only to
students who study in their home province.

He said these actions are shortsighted. "They are not in the best 
interests of the students or of the country. Increasingly our
world is driven by knowledge-based industries. We want Canada to
be able to compete. We want our children to have a decent future.
We should all be working together to make that happen. Instead,
we seem to be facing new roadblocks. We are in danger of having
education become a privilege of an elite, and of seeing regions
and provinces pitted against each other."

The MPHEC will be making recommendations on these issues to the
senate sub-committee, which is on a cross-country tour as part of
its examination of the state of post-secondary education in

"The MPHEC will bring to the sub-committee a broad view of the
existing situation and its problems," Cameron added. "We
represent a cross-section of Maritimers and for nearly 25 years
we have been helping the whole Maritime region in the efficient
and effective allocation of education resources."

The MPHEC was formed in 1973 with members from all three Maritime 
provinces, including representatives of the provincial
governments, universities, students and the general public.


Contact: Dr. David Cameron  902-494-6626

trp                       Feb. 14, 1997 - 11:55 a.m.