Three-year Agreement Benefits University Students
Nova Scotia and its universities signed an agreement today, Dec. 7, to cap most tuition fee increases for three years in exchange for guaranteed provincial funding.
By the last year of the three-year agreement, universities will be receiving $34.6 million per year more from government compared to 2004-05.
On average, this new funding will avert about $1,300 in tuition fee increases in the final year of the agreement.
"This is a substantial investment by the people of Nova Scotia in their students and universities," said Education Minister Jamie Muir. "Higher education will continue to be an excellent value for students and our universities will continue to offer an education that is recognized across the country for its high quality.
"This comes on top of new initiatives in student financial assistance. Education, clearly, is a priority of this government."
Colin Dodds, chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents and president of Saint Mary's University, said the memorandum of understanding is a significant re-investment by the Nova Scotia government in Nova Scotia's universities and its students.
"It recognizes that Nova Scotia's universities are a strategic asset, critically important to the province's future prosperity and quality of life," Dr. Dodds said.
"The memorandum helps ensure that Nova Scotia's universities continue to deliver high quality, nationally competitive programs and an overall experience attractive and accessible to students here at home, from across Canada and from around the world."
Under the memorandum of understanding, the universities will have available funding of $224 million in 2005-06 (an increase of $12.3 million or 5.8 per cent over the previous year), $235.7 million in 2006-07 (an increase of $11.7 million or 5.2 per cent over the previous year), and $246.3 million in 2007-08 (an increase of $10.6 million or 4.5 per cent the previous year).
This is an increase of $71 million from a low of $175 million in 1997-98. It is the largest increase in provincial operating grants to universities in history.
Tuition fees will be limited to increases of no more than 3.9 per cent annually for most programs during the agreement. The agreement also limits increases to other fees such as those for labs and residences.
Tuition fees have increased by about seven per cent in each of the past three years.
Work on the agreement began in the fall of 2003.
Student needs were considered throughout the negotiations. Mr. Muir and department staff sought the views of student leaders at a meeting in October, and provided them background on the negotiations.
Mr. Muir and Dr. Dodds gave student leaders a private briefing on the agreement Tuesday morning.
The Department of Education and the universities have also agreed to meet twice yearly to discuss the progress of the agreement and to pursue new initiatives.
These include making it easier for students to transfer credits among universities and community colleges, making higher education more efficient, and making it more accessible to under- represented groups.
Five areas of higher education are not covered by the tuition increase limits: medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), law (LLB), programs for which students pay the full cost of their education, and foreign student differential fees.
The agreement recognizes that universities are a $1-billion industry vital the province's economy, providing 7,500 direct high quality, well-paying jobs, and 17,500 indirect jobs.
Higher education represents 60 per cent of the research and development in the province.
Work on the second memorandum of understanding will begin in 2007-08.
FOR BROADCAST USE:
The province and its universities have signed a deal that will cap most tuition fee increases for three years.
It also gives the universities a 34 point-6-million dollar boost in funding by 2007.
The Department of Education estimates that on average this new funding will spare students about 13-hundred dollars each in tuition fee increases.
Education Minister Jamie Muir says Nova Scotia universities have an excellent reputation across the country. He says this new investment by the province will enable them to continue offering top-quality education.
jal December 7, 2004 11:32 A.M.