April 2, 2013

Students Nova Scotia: For Immediate Release 

The Dalhousie Faculty Association’s report last week revealed that in ten years Dalhousie diverted over $85 million in operating funds into capital spending and increased its debt 650% to $106 million. Students were dismayed by these findings, which show the institution has made significant cuts to academics and support services and raised fees on false pretenses.

“Students feel misled and manipulated”, said Jamie Arron, President of the Dalhousie Student Union. “The report shows that every year Dal underestimates its revenues to justify cut-backs in important programs and services and redirect money into construction. I think the administration knows students won’t support this policy, so it hides behind artful accounting.”

“Institutions argue that students shouldn’t worry about the impact of construction spending on academics because the funding sources are different, but we now know that’s not true,” said StudentsNS Executive Director, Jonathan Williams. “Students are paying for these construction projects through heightened fees, more crowded classrooms and more limited services, and this fact has been hidden from them.”

The report’s findings are especially troubling given the recent Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) “consultations” were premised on an anticipated $17.5 million shortfall. The report shows the BAC is largely window-dressing since its revenue estimates are systematically low and purview largely excludes capital expenditures.

“We’ve been told to accept further and further tuition increases as an inevitability. Clearly that does not need to be the case,” said Arron. “This is about priorities, and students have been cut out of the process of determining those priorities.”

Students cautioned those who would consider Dalhousie an outlier, however.

“The DFA’s findings demonstrate Dal’s serious lack of transparency, but we don’t believe for a moment that Dal is an outlier,” said Williams. “Nova Scotia has a serious university-system-wide accountability problem. Without investing a lot of time and money digging through their books, you really can’t tell what some of these public institutions’ priorities are.”

The report also revealed dramatic increases in other budget lines including administration (98%), professional consulting services (78%) and an undefined “institution” line that grew 10-fold to over $11 million.

Williams also noted that the report’s findings make a strong case for the Province to regulate tuition and other fees, considering institutions’ questionable priorities and lack of transparency. In this vein, StudentsNS members are currently boycotting consultations on new ancillary fees until the Province and universities follow Ontario’s lead and give students the power to approve or reject new fees.

Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS), formerly the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations, is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 87% of Nova Scotia university students. Our 37,471 members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, as well as the Atlantic School of Theology.

 

For more questions and inquiries please contact:

Jamie Arron, Dalhousie Student Union President

Phone: 902 818 5269

Email: dsupres@dal.ca

Or

Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director

Phone: 902 422 4068

Cell phone: 902 483 5480

Email: director@studentsns.ca