Universities face three percent budget cuts

Tuition likely to go up.

The Nova Scotia Department of Education’s new three year Memorandum of Understanding between the province and Nova Scotia’s universities all but ensures that students will see tuition fees, already higher than the national average, increase again. If you read only the first paragraph of the MOU, released last Thursday, you might be tricked into thinking it held good news. And why not? The province unveiled a new $25-million investment in education called the University Excellence and Innovation Program,

The Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents view the program as a positive, one of the few in the MOU, but Mark Coffin of the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations sees it differently, “They’re not really investing $25 million into the system, they’re cutting $25 million from the annual budget and a putting a one-time investment of $25 million and spreading it out over three years.”

The Excellence and Innovation Program, according to the MOU, is to develop “a range of projects that will, through their combined impacts, reduce the total annual cost structure of the university system by $25 million.” Essentially they’ll be spending $25 million to find ways to cut $25 million.

The sad truth, revealed at the tail end of the press release, is that the province isn’t really injecting any new money into universities, they just want to find out new ways to cut university spending. The biggest blow to university education delivered in the MOU was that the operating grant for 2012-13 would be reduced by a further three percent after having been reduced by four percent the previous year. Universities have lost over $16 million, without taking inflation into consideration, in funding over two years. Sadly the new MOU allows universities to raise tuition rates by three percent this year thus passing the squeeze on down to the students.

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