Nova Scotia

Dalhousie University approves higher tuition and fees

Dalhousie University students protested against a decision Tuesday by the school's board of governors to approve a three per cent general tuition increase across all programs.

About 100 Dalhousie students protest the decision Tuesday afternoon

Dal students protesting outside a board of governors meeting on Tuesday. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

Dozens of Dalhousie University students protested against a decision Tuesday by the school's board of governors to approve a three per cent general tuition increase across all programs. 

"Students aren't accepting this. Students aren't happy with this," said Kathleen Reid, incoming Dalhousie Student Union president.

"We can't afford to go to school. We have students using things like the DSU food bank ... they have to make a decision between getting food or paying their tuition fees."

The university's provost and vice president, Carolyn Watters, said in a news release that the tuition hikes, along with cuts to faculty budgets, helped Dalhousie balance the books in the coming fiscal year.

The board of governors also approved additional tuition increases for undergraduates in engineering, pharmacy, and agriculture, however the bumps were not as large as initially proposed. They increases are:

  • Engineering: 3.3 per cent per year for three years (down from five per cent in the initial recommendations)
  • Pharmacy: Four per cent per year for three years (down from five per cent)
  • Agriculture: 5.8 per cent per year for three years (down from 6.3 per cent)

The 2015-2016 provincial budget lifted the tuition cap and allowed Nova Scotia universities to make a one-time market adjustment to tuition, so they can charge similar amounts for similar programs.

Students 'not happy'

About 100 students protested outside the meeting on Tuesday. Reid says they hoped their presence would stop the meeting from happening.

Instead, she says it was moved from room to room because of the protest. With shakers in hand, students chanted "reject the reset," "the students united will never be defeated," and "open the door." 

University students have been demonstrating regularly against the one-time cap lift on tuition since it was announced a year ago. They held a sit-in outside Advanced Education Minister Kelly Regan's office to protest tuition hikes a month ago.

John Hutton, the vice president academic of DSU, says students in agriculture, pharmacy and engineering faculties will be seeing tuition and fee increases over a period of three years that will amount to as much as $2,000.

"It is absolutely unacceptable that students are already graduating with record levels of student debt. More than 200 students a month are using our university food bank. Why does the university even have a food bank? It shows the level, the crisis students are facing," said Hutton.

With files from Steve Lawrence