University tuition hikes capped at 3 per cent
The province of Nova Scotia is capping university tuition increases at three per cent for each of the next three years, CBC News has learned.
Marilyn More, the province's minister of labour and advanced education, met with student leaders on Tuesday to outline the plan to limit tuition increases.
Kelly Regan, the Liberal critic for education, said she's anxious to hear if the government will continue to offset tuition increases through a trust fund set up by the previous Progressive Conservative government.
"We have not heard all the details so until we hear all the details, we're not going to be jumping up and down," she told CBC News.
"I mean, what is the implication for universities? Are they freezing their funding? Are they getting any of this three per cent increase?"
The Canadian Federation of Students said in a release Monday night that it was upset to hear about the government's plan.
Gabe Hoogers, the Nova Scotia representative of the Canadian Federation of Students, said students were "shocked" to find out that Premier Darrell Dexter's government would be adopting one of the recommendations by Tim O'Neill, an economist and former Bank of Montreal executive who was hired as a consultant on the state of the province's post-secondary education system.
O'Neill's report, released in September, addressed university mergers as well as a capped tuition hike. He said the latter was necessary because the cash-strapped province could not afford to pay for all of the programs it offers.
"Students and their families were promised a better deal when the NDP was elected," Hoogers said in the release.
"Instead, the NDP government is using the O'Neill report to justify funding cuts and tuition fee hikes, policies they previously condemned."
A memorandum of understanding between university presidents and the Department of Education, which includes a tuition freeze, expires on March 31.
The cost of a university education in Nova Scotia remains one of the highest in the country, despite a three-year freeze on tuition.
The average undergraduate tuition in the province is $5,495 — the third highest behind Ontario and New Brunswick, and graduate students in Nova Scotia pay the most in Canada.
Students in the province graduate with the highest average debt of $31,000.
"By increasing tuition fees, Darrell Dexter is not only turning his back on students, but the vast majority of Nova Scotians who support reducing fees," said Hoogers.