For Immediate Release
Halifax, N.S. — Student representatives have been informed that they will be excluded from this year’s universities-government Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Negotiations for the first time since 2005. Both opposition parties included students at the MOU table when in power. The move represents an about-face on promises made by the Liberal Party in advance of the 2013 election.
In a response to a StudentsNS questionnaire (#19) in the lead up to the 2013 election, the Liberal Party provided the following assurances:
Students have to be part of the conversation when it comes to our post-secondary education system. A Liberal government will ensure full participation of students in discussions that have a direct impact on our post-secondary education sector. We cannot move forward without our students.
“The government is breaking its promise to students by excluding us from the MOU negotiations”, said James Patriquin, StudentsNS President. “The government has just gone back on a public commitment to students, so there’s no way we can trust their decisions behind closed doors.”
The MOU sets the terms of agreement for the Province to fund Nova Scotia’s universities, notably including regulations on tuition and other fees paid by students. Not only will this year’s more secretive MOU exclude students, it will also build upon individual agreements with each university that have not been disclosed to the public.
“We are deeply concerned about whether the Province will hold the line on tuition and fees regulation, let alone make progress, if students are not in the room for the MOU negotiations”, said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director. “Will this government push the universities for greater accountability and transparency, notably in their finances, through a non-transparent and unaccountable process without students in the room?”
“From my experience, students simply cannot trust university presidents and government to put forward our best interests at the MOU negotiating table”, said Kyle Power, who participated in the 2012 MOU negotiations as a student representative. “This opens the door for backroom deals with major implications for students and their families.”
This decision represents the Province’s second major blow to students and youth this year. In April 2014, the Provincial budget cut $35 million in support for youth through the elimination of the Graduate Retention Rebate, with the Province misquoting StudentsNS as supportive of the move.
Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 37,794 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 86% of the university population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.
For more information or questions, please contact:
Jonathan Williams, Executive Director
James Patriquin, President
Kyle Power, Dalhousie University Student