Students say it’s time for city to put money where mouth is on transit

January 30, 2013

Officials at Metro Transit have announced a proposal to increase transit fares by 11% or 25 cents per trip. They argue that the increase is relatively negligible and allows for various improvements to be funded without increasing transit taxes. Students question why transit users should cover the full cost of improvements to this key public asset, and are concerned that a fare increase will translate into higher U-pass costs down the road.

“Putting the full cost of transit improvements on users sends the wrong message about the direction of public transit in Halifax”, says Jonathan Williams, the Executive Director of Students Nova Scotia, which represents almost 24,000 HRM students. “Students have said many times that improving public transit has to be a priority for HRM, but the cost of those improvements which benefit everyone should at least be shared”.

Studies have shown investments in transit generate significant public benefits, including economic stimulus, reduced congestion, reduced pollution and health improvements.

Full-time university and community college students have U-passes that keep the cost of transit relatively low by group buying passes and guaranteeing revenue for Metro Transit. While the U-pass agreements protect students from the immediate impacts of the proposed fare increase, students worry the new fare will be used to justify a more expensive U-Pass in the future.

“Put simply, public transit is an investment that, by keeping the cost for users low, will have a huge social and economic return by, among other things, keeping Halifax a youthful city,” said Jared Perry, President of the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association. “It’s clear to us that when our current U-pass agreement expires this is the type of change that will be cited in arguing for higher student contributions.”

“All Halifax residents benefit from transit, not only users,” said Williams. “How can Halifax argue that improving public transit is good for our entire community, but only a small and generally low-income part of the community should pay for it.”

Students strongly urge the city’s politicians and Metro Transit to use this as an opportunity not to make Metro Transit as expensive as other cities, but to show that Halifax is a leader in both transit affordability and quality, by putting their money where their mouth is.

Nova Scotia Students Surprised and Disappointed by Scale of Dalhousie’s Budget Crunch

January 23, 2013

Dalhousie University has announced that it anticipates a $17.5 million deficit for their 2013-14 budget. In recent public comments, Dalhousie’s Vice President of Finance Administration, Ken Burt, proposed that the deficit is the result of the institution facing a “perfect storm” in the form of “a reduction in government grants, increased pension costs, and declining student enrolment.” Nova Scotia students are surprised and disappointed by the scale of the shortfall, given the university should have anticipated and prepared for this ‘storm’.

“The deficit amounts to almost $1000 dollars for every Dal student, and we’re being led to believe it came upon the university suddenly and was largely beyond their control,” Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) President Jamie Arron said. “We are deeply concerned about how this will affect students and the university community at large.” More

MPHEC report highlights need for action on credit transferability

January 17, 2013

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) released a report on Monday, Portable Learning: University Students Granted Credit for Prior Post-Secondary Education, which highlights the significance of transfer students at Maritimes Universities. Almost one-in-five students entering our universities each year are awarded credits for past courses at another post-secondary institution.

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Report calls for new approach to planning, funding, and accountability in Nova Scotia university system

January 15, 2013

A new report released by Students Nova Scotia (StudentsNS) warns that Nova Scotia’s emphasis on enrolment growth in allocating university funding threatens institutions’ stability and education quality, while failing to promote transparency and accountability. Getting the Most from Our Universities: A New Approach to System Planning and Funding in Nova Scotia recommends significant reforms to the province’s funding formula and the university system’s overall governance structure. More