HALIFAX—Students will gather at the legislature at noon today to voice their concerns about their uncertain future as tuition fees in Nova Scotia continue to skyrocket. Students will have a banner showing the increase in tuition fees since 1990 and placards that present the debt that they have incurred furthering their own education. Recent changes by the McNeil government mean that undergraduate tuition fees have increased by an average rate of 5.6% this year, with an average cost of $7,567. As a result, average student debt in Nova Scotia is now $39,600 upon completion of an undergraduate degree.
“We are here today to let the government of Nova Scotia know that a properly-funded post-secondary education system needs to be a priority,” said Aidan McNally, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. “We call on the government to abandon the tuition fee increases proposed in their previous budget and use this throne speech as an opportunity to set the course towards an accessible post-secondary education system in this province.”
The drastic tuition fee increases have been permitted by the tuition fee market adjustment included in the current Memorandum of Understanding between the province and universities. The market adjustment effectively deregulated tuition for all Nova Scotia students and will allow universities to increase tuition fees by as much as 40% over the next three years.
“As this government prepares to deliver its throne speech and outline the focus for the upcoming session, students are here to let them know that a properly funded post-secondary education system is possible and it needs to part on the agenda” said McNally. “If students continue to be saddled with debt in order to pursue their education, the entire future of our province will be in jeopardy. It’s time for the government to invest in making universities and colleges universally accessible.”
Government investment in post-secondary education has failed to increase with inflation since 2010, making this the 6th consecutive year of real funding cuts to the system in Nova Scotia. Under the current Memorandum of Understanding between the province and universities, these cuts will continue until at least 2019.
The Canadian Federation of Students is the oldest and largest national student organization in Canada, representing over 650,000 college, undergraduate and graduate students across the country.