News release

Province, Universities, Build Sustainable, Innovative Post-secondary Education

A three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the province and Nova Scotia's 11 universities will ensure tuition remains at, or below, the national average, increases research and development opportunities, and invests $25 million in universities to help them become more sustainable.

A key element of the MOU is a $25-million investment by the province in a new University Excellence and Innovation Program. That program will operate over the life of the MOU to help support efforts to reduce costs and foster innovation.

"Nova Scotia's economic future depends upon a strong university and college system and we're committed to working with our partners so they can continue to provide a first-rate education," said Marilyn More, Minister of Labour and Advanced Education. "The new agreement will keep university education affordable for Nova Scotian students while making sure we all live within our means in order that Nova Scotia can continue to deliver key services like health and post-secondary education."

The memorandum also outlines areas where new approaches are needed to ensure excellence and sustainability. They include:

  • An updated formula to allocate the provincial operating grant among universities that better reflects program cost variations and enrolments
  • More collaboration by universities to reduce costs while maintaining or enhancing program quality. This could include things such as shared data services
  • A review of tuition-related policies to ensure fair and competitive tuition that remains at, or below, the national average
  • Improving credit transfer to make it easier for students to have completed courses recognized at other universities
  • Enhancing research and development, and contributions to economic development. For example, the Halifax Marine Institute links academic and public sector research with ocean industries and works to generate long-term economic benefits for the province and region

A partnership will also be established to monitor the progress of the new approach to sustainability and ensure it continues to support goals of the agreement.

The memorandum caps possible annual tuition increases at three per cent. This, along with the province's investment of $42.5 million in student assistance as part of the 2011 budget, will keep tuition for Nova Scotia students at, or below, the national average. Students enrolled in dentistry, law and medicine, and international students, are excluded from the cap.

Ms. More also announced the provincial operating grant for 2012-13, which will be $324 million for the universities.

"We advised the university presidents and the MOU negotiating committee last fall that the operating grant for 2012-13 would be reduced by a further three per cent, so they would have enough time to plan their respective budgets," said Ms. More. "I want to thank the presidents and student leaders for respecting the confidentiality agreement these past few months and for their diligence in reaching this agreement."

The universities must also absorb any possible inflation costs without additional funding.

An memorandum of understanding is a commitment to work together on an agreed objective. It often lays out terms of a co-operative agreement.

For a full copy of the memorandum, visit www.gov.ns.ca/lae/ .

FOR BROADCAST USE:

A new memorandum of understanding between the province and Nova Scotia's 11 universities will ensure tuition will remain at, or below, the national average, and increases research and development.

The MOU also establishes a 25-million-dollar fund to help universities to reduce costs and foster innovation.

Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More says the province's economic future depends upon a strong university and college system. She says the new agreement will keep university education affordable for Nova Scotian students while making sure we all live within our means.

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Media Contact:

Pam Menchenton
Labour and Advanced Education 902-424-0011 Cell: 902-719-4950 E-mail: