January 5, 2012

(Halifax) – The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA) is calling the agreement announced today between the Province of Nova Scotia the worst of its kind. Following two similar Memorandums of Understanding from previous governments that improved university funding and eventually froze and reduced tuition fees, the agreement announced today does the exact opposite.

“This move will make it nearly impossible for universities to provide the quality education students in Nova Scotia deserve,” said ANSSA Executive Director, Mark Coffin.

Last year’s funding cut resulted in reductions of quality of teaching at universities across the province. This has affected students at the classroom level.

“More cuts will mean more of the same – larger class sizes, fewer instructors, and when vacancies appear, they won’t be filled or will be filled by low-wage part time instructors,” said Coffin.

Nova Scotia continues to be the only province in the country reducing funding to universities. To dampen the blow of lost government revenue, the province has loosened regulation on tuition increases at universities.

“This agreement gives the universities plenty of room to raise tuition fees above the three per cent cap the minister promised students last year,” said ANSSA Chair, Kyle Power.

The agreement states that tuition increases will be capped at three per cent annually, “pending the outcome of [a] Tuition Policy Review, which will include a review of tuition levels at comparable institutions.”

Students of Law, Dentistry and Medicine and International students will be subject to unregulated tuition increases for the next three years. There will also be discussions surrounding whether to remove the cap on tuition fee increases for students from other provinces within Canada.

The agreement maintains that the province and the universities will ensure “an accessible system of universities.”

“Considered as a whole, this MOU and other policies introduced by this government only make university education in Nova Scotia less accessible forall who seek it,” said Power.

While tuition will be increasing for the foreseeable future, the purchasing power of a Nova Scotia student loan has steadily declined since 2005. Last year, over 2,200 students on student loans were an average of $3,054 short of what they needed to pay for tuition, books, rent and groceries.

ANSSA will be asking the government to increase the cap on student assistance to ensure that the neediest students are able to afford to attend university.

A blog posting on the ANSSA website contains a detailed analysis of the MOU in plain language and can be accessed here: http://anssa.ca/blog/

The Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations (ANSSA) is a not-for-profit, non-partisan advocacy group representing the interests of over 80% of Nova Scotian university students. We are over 35,000 students at Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, Acadia and St. Francis Xavier Universities and the Atlantic School of Theology. We are the largest student organization in Atlantic Canada.

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For more information please contact:

Mark Coffin

Executive Director

902.422.4068 (w)