HALIFAX–Students were outside Province House today to greet MLAs as they returned to work and to remind NDP MLAs of the commitments they made to invest in post-secondary education and reduce tuition fees while in opposition. On February 1, Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More announced that the government plans to cut funding to universities by four percent and increase tuition fees by three percent.
“For years, the NDP supported students in their calls for more government funding for post-secondary education and for tuition fee reductions,” said Elise Graham, Chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students–Nova Scotia. “The government’s plan to cut funding and increase tuition fees is both out step with their past commitments and the financial realities of Nova Scotia students and our families.”
The provincial government currently spends less on universities per-student than it did in 1990, in constant dollars. As a result, students in Nova Scotia currently pay some of the highest tuition fees in the country and graduate with the highest average student debt, at $31, 000. In today’s speech the government revealed that details of a debt cap program would be announced shortly.
“The most straight forward and cost effective way to stem student debt is to reduce tuition fees while increasing grants for students,” said Graham. “There’s still time for the NDP government to listen to Nova Scotians and make post-secondary education more affordable.”
On February 2, over 2, 000 students took to the streets of Halifax, Wolfville and Church Point for the Reduce Fees-Drop Debt Student Day of Action to call on the government to invest in post-secondary education, reduce tuition fees and increase grants available to students. In a recent poll, 83 percent of respondents supported reducing tuition fees.
As a result of today’s action students will be meeting with Minister More to discuss funding for universities, tuition fees and student financial aid later this afternoon.
The NDP government will table the 2011-12 provincial budget on April 5. Funding cuts to universities, tuition fee hikes and any changes to student financial aid will not be final until the budget is passed. In February, students presented Finance Minister Graham Steele with their budget recommendations, which can be viewed at www.cfs-ns.ca.