Nova Scotia student group calls for end to “skyrocketing” tuition

The Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia is sounding the alarm on what they’re calling “drastic tuition fee increases” as students face the fastest rising tuition fees in Canada.

On Tuesday, the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission published the latest tuition fees for universities in Nova Scotia showing an average increase of 5.6 per cent. The largest increase is at NSCAD University where tuition has risen by 10.85 per cent.

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“These tuition fee hikes are slamming the door shut on a generation of learners,” said Aidan McNally, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia.

“Post-secondary education is no longer a luxury, but a necessity, which is why students are calling on the federal and provincial governments to invest in post-secondary education and make it accessible.”

The average undergraduate tuition this year in Nova Scotia is $7,567.

The Canadian Federation of Students said the fee increases were made possible by the tuition fee market adjustment as part of the current memorandum of understanding between universities and the province.

They said the one per cent operating grant increase until 2019 is essentially a cut due to inflation.

“These fee hikes are a direct result of cuts to public funding,” said McNally. “Students should not be burdened by a lifetime of debt from pursuing higher education.”

However, Nova Scotia’s Minister of Labour and Advanced Education said this is not the case.

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“If you look at the last few years of inflation, it’s actually been running less than one per cent,” said Labi Kousoulis.

“So essentially, I’m not sure where they’re calculating the universities are falling behind.”

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Kousoulis also said the one-time market adjustment for universities was a necessary step in fixing a blunder by the previous NDP government.

“The previous government had frozen tuition rates without consulting with the universities,” said Kousoulis.

“Many of them were facing challenges that they told us they could not cope with. A prime example was NSCAD — they got caught in a year where they offered six courses for the price of four courses.”

The Canadian Federation of Students – Nova Scotia said they are worried the market adjustment could allow universities to increase tuition fees by as much as 40 per cent over the next three years.

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