The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPHEC) yesterday released its 2012-13 tuition data. Tuition has increased at all Nova Scotia universities by the maximum allowable rate for domestic students (3%) and by just under 4% for international students.
“These are sad days when our young people have to pay more to get the knowledge and skills they need, and our society and economy need, to be successful”, said Kyle Power, StudentsNS Chair and Acadia Student Union VP Academic. “It’s unsurprising that tuition is rising the way it is, when government is allowing increases and simultaneously cutting their funding to the universities, but it hurts students, their families and ultimately all Nova Scotians”.
The Province has cut funding to universities by 7% in the past two years, with an additional 3% cut expected for 2013-14. The combined tuition increases and funding cuts mean that the students’ role in financing their institutions is growing at an alarming rate.
StudentsNS is particularly concerned about the impact of increased tuition on low-income students. Some students are unable to access more money through student assistance and are therefore forced to compromise on nutrition or housing quality to find the extra money, or to take on private loans with exorbitant interest rates.
“For students with the greatest need, the cap on maximum assistance means no more support when tuition rises, jeopardizing their ability to afford life-changing post-secondary education”, said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director.
At the same time, the increases highlight the need to regulate international student tuition. International students should be expected to finance their own education, but not disproportionately subsidize institutions and their domestic peers.
“Tuition costs must be predictable from year to year, otherwise students can be held hostage by their universities, having invested vast amounts of money and time before being told they must abandon that investment or else pay whatever increase their institution dictates,” said Williams. “If Nova Scotia wants to compete for international students – and competition is fiercer than ever – it’s imperative that we provide the best quality experience possible, and that includes ensuring that students don’t feel exploited”.
StudentsNS, formerly the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations, is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents over 80% of Nova Scotia university students. Our 36,347 members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary's, and St. Francis Xavier Universities and the Atlantic School of Theology.