Premier Receives Report Aimed at Strengthening Universities

Premier's Office

Published Friday, September 17, 2010

Premier Darrell Dexter received advice and recommendations from economist Tim O'Neill on how to make Nova Scotia's universities more competitive and sustainable. Mr. O'Neill's recommendations include restructuring student assistance to make it more accessible and to address the needs for low-income students, improving the quality of universities by monitoring performance and accountability through a report card, and increasing co-operation among university administrations to maximize savings.


Mr. O'Neill's report outlines innovative and strategic ideas that will allow government and universities to ensure that Nova Scotia's university system keeps improving. Some of the recommendations will be instrumental in helping government make improvements to things like financial aid for students. Others provide options to universities to help them make strategic decisions that are in their best interest.Premier Darrell Dexter

Nova Scotia's universities are significant contributors to the province's economic, social and cultural development. The aim of my report is to address options for ensuring they remain so in light of the emerging population challenges and fiscal realities facing universities across the country, and indeed, worldwide.Tim O'Neill

Nova Scotia's universities are one of this province's best assets and I am pleased that Mr. O'Neill put forward recommendations that will allow them to continue to thrive. I look forward to hearing from colleagues and stakeholders over the next few months, their thoughts and opinions on what Mr. O'Neill recommended.Premier Darrell Dexter

Quick Facts

-- The report suggests that the best way to ensure universities in Nova Scotia continue to succeed is to focus efforts on a modest restructuring of the university system, with individual institutions exploring and deciding on merger and restructuring options.

-- Other significant recommendations include:

  • allowing tuition fees to increase, with a possible cap on rate increases
  • encouraging universities to find mutual savings through increased co-operation on administration
  • negotiating the operating grant for universities in the long run could be based on one of either population growth, government spending growth or rate of GDP growth.
  • exploring private/public partnerships and management of some facilities.
  • increasing research, technology adoption and commercialization
  • addressing infrastructure needs, after an independent assessment of deferred and ongoing maintenance
  • maintaining current funding formula and multi-year agreements.

-- Mr. O'Neill was recruited by the province in January to identify policy options that will ensure the long-term viability of the university sector.

-- Premier Dexter thanked Mr. O'Neill for this report and said he looks forward to working with his colleagues and universities over the next few months to make strategic improvements to the university system.

Learn More

Media Contact

Janet Lynn McNeil
Premier's Office
Cell: 902-237-4287


A student reads on the front steps of a university building
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A student takes notes on a laptop computer as a professor conducts a class.
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Dr. O'Neill responding to questions during news conference
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Dr. Tim O'Neill addresses media after releasing his report
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Tim O'Neill explains the pressures facing Nova Scotia's universities.
Mr. O'Neill outlines options that universities could consider in dealing with financial challenges.
Mr. O'Neill explains that student aid programs need to be improved and tuition rates increased.
Premier Darrell Dexter says the O'Neill report presents a good opportunity to build on the strength of Nova Scotia's university system.
Premier Dexter says that the province will improve student aid.
Tim O'Neill talks about the findings from his report on universities.


Tim O'Neill says Nova Scotia's universities have the ability to deal with the challenges that face them.
Dr. O'Neill says his report outlines challenges and options, but it is up to the universities to make the decisions.
Dr. O'Neill says universities aren't about to jump into mergers that aren't beneficial.