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MPHEC data shows Nova Scotia universities systematically circumventing tuition cap

For Immediate Release

Halifax, N.S. — Data released today by the Maritime Provinces’ Higher Education Commission reveals that most Nova Scotia universities have systematically subverted the province’s 3% tuition cap since 2011-12. Ancillary fees charged by universities have increased 40% in this time, or 13.4% per year. These increases are in addition to 3% annual increases in tuition, which were also confirmed in the MPHEC release.

“The Province has given tacit approval for our universities to circumvent the tuition cap and collect millions of dollars in extra fees from students,” said StudentsNS President, James Patriquin. “These fees are entirely about concealing the true cost of university tuition to both get around the tuition cap and drop the sticker price seen by students and their families.” 

The bulk of the increases in ancillary fees have come in the form of Campus or Facilities Renewal Fees. These fees have more than doubled since 2011, with new fees introduced at AST, NSCAD, StFX and Université Ste-Anne.

“No university or government official can provide an acceptable explanation for how building maintenance and construction is ancillary to core university operations”, said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director. “These ancillary fees are simply tuition by another name.”

Increases in university fees have been accompanied by $61 million in real cuts to university operating grants over four straight years. In April, the Province also eliminated the Graduate Retention Rebate, cutting $35 million from support for youth employment, retention and attraction.

The Province will be negotiating a new 3-year MOU with the universities in the next six months, which is the agreement that regulates tuition and fees. StudentsNS is calling on the Province to freeze tuition and close the ancillary fee loophole. Notably, the organization has recommended that the Province emulate Ontario in requiring ancillary fees to be approved by campus student organizations and clarifying what services can be funded through tuition or ancillary fees.

“Nova Scotia’s students and grads have among the world’s highest debt levels and are facing high unemployment and falling earnings. We can’t afford fees that never stop increasing”, said Patriquin. “The provincial government needs to match their words of support for the One Nova Scotia Report with immediate and decisive action to help our young people.

Student associations, including StudentsNS, are funded through ancillary fees that are generally approved by referendum or votes of student council representatives. These fees were excluded from the figures highlighted by StudentsNS, but have increased by just 2.6% per year

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For more information or questions, please contact:

Jonathan Williams

StudentsNS Executive Director

(O) 902.422.4068

(C) 902.483.5480

(E) director@studentsns.ca

Or

James Patriquin

StudentsNS President

(O) 902.496.8709

(C) 902.718.7285

(E) president@studentsns.ca

Kate Elliot