NSCAD University says it welcomes a review of its financial future, but it's rejecting talk of a merger.
The review was triggered by continuing financial problems at the former Nova Scotia College of Art & Design.
Last year, the Dexter government ate a $1.4-millon NSCAD deficit.
With NSCAD facing another $2.4-million shortfall this year, the NDP last week appointed retired deputy minister Howard Windsor to examine the school's options.
Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More said there are no restrictions on Windsor and she won't rule out anything, including a merger.
"It seemed obvious to us that their financial situation hadn't improved," said More. "Rather than let the situation get any worse, we want to get Mr. Windsor to work with their board and senior management to come up with a sustainability plan."
"We just know that the taxpayer has to be able to afford post-secondary education in this province," said More.
John Mabley, the university's vice-president of university relations, said the school is open to the review. It will likely examine everything from programs to the university's current footprint. It has three campuses, including a long term lease at the Seaport complex on the Halifax Waterfront.
But Mabley said the school's board of governors has voted unanimously to remain autonomous.
"The students, particularly from beyond Nova Scotia, have other options for this kind of specialized education. We believe that NSCAD's attractiveness, its popularity as a magnet for these students will be reduced if we're not able to operate on the same platform as we do today," said Mabley.
NSCAD will celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding in 2012. Mabley said the school has faced and surmounted many challenges over the years and is looking at the current financial challenge from the same perspective.
Howard Windsor will report back in late November.
The NDP government has already approved a Dalhousie University takeover of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in Truro.