Students: Nova Scotia Weakening University Accountability
Halifax, NS – Notwithstanding legislation brought forward yesterday, the Government of Nova Scotia has undermined university accountability according to Students Nova Scotia. By deregulating tuition at Nova Scotia’s universities, the Government has granted the institutions more financial control than anywhere else in Canada, while also excluding students from the Memorandum of Understanding negotiations with the universities for the first time since 2005.
“Overall our government and universities have been systematically undermining accountability to students and their families over the past year, and this legislation does little to change that,” said StudentsNS Vice President University Affairs Callie Lathem. “Talk of accountability rings very hollow when no other provincial government grants its universities full control over fees and students have been excluded from the MOU table for the first time in a decade.”
The legislation creates space for the Government to introduce financial reporting and outcomes requirements for universities to be determined through the Memorandum of Understanding negotiations. StudentsNS has recommended the introduction of these kinds of mechanisms to improve universities’ financial transparency and accountability for student outcomes, although without details it is difficult to know how serious these mechanisms will be. The legislation does not include any mechanisms relating to student fees or require that the financial reporting be made publicly available.
Arguably, the legislation relates most strongly to restructuring processes for universities that are failing financially, including by suspending the employer and employees’ right to job action under such circumstances.
“This legislation is about expanding options for the government when it comes to funding conditionality, and expanding options for cash-strapped universities to restructure”, said StudentsNS Executive Director Jonathan Williams. “It falls well short of providing accountability to students, especially if financial reports are not published publicly and students cannot participate in determining financial reporting requirements and conditional outcomes.”
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Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy and research group that represents post-secondary students from across Nova Scotia. Our members include Acadia, Cape Breton, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec and Annapolis Valley Campuses of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.
For more information, please contact:
Jonathan Williams, Executive Director
Phone: 902 483 5480
Callie Lathem, VP University Affairs
Phone: 902 489 1659