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Students Nova Scotia pushes for new funding to go to improving online education

Click to play video '10 N.S. universities to split $25M in provincial funding' 10 N.S. universities to split $25M in provincial funding
Nova Scotia universities will soon receive a big chunk of change as the province is giving $25 million to 10 universities – Jan 13, 2021

A students’ advocacy group in Nova Scotia is pushing the province’s 10 universities to dedicate new provincial funding directly towards improving online education.

On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia government announced it will commit $25 million to the province’s universities to help them manage the impact of the pandemic.

The province says the amount each university is slated to receive is based on individual needs.

The final breakdown is as follows:

  • Dalhousie University $9,479,700
  • St. FX University $3,646,100
  • Saint Mary’s University $2,916,900
  • Acadia University $2,187,700
  • Cape Breton University $2,187,700
  • Mount Saint Vincent University $1,458,400
  • University of King’s College $1,324,700
  • NSCAD University $1,215,400
  • Université Sainte-Anne $364,600
  • Atlantic School of Theology $218,800

Read more: Nova Scotia provides $25M to help universities impacted by COVID-19

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Samantha Graham, chair of Students Nova Scotia, welcomes the investment, but says the group will be keeping a watchful eye to ensure the funds go directly to student needs.

“We know that students have raised a lot of concerns this year about quality of education, and paying the same amount for education online, so we just want to make sure student priorities are addressed,” said Graham.

At the beginning of the academic year, Dalhousie University students experienced a tuition increase of three per cent.

Lena Diab, Nova Scotia’s minister of labour and advanced education, said the funding isn’t expected to have a significant impact on tuition, as it’s expected to go directly to improving education in the winter semester.

“That would be up to the universities, but I would suggest not likely,” Diab said on the prospect of the funds impacting tuition.

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The province said the funding is expected to flow to universities in the coming weeks. The Atlantic Association of Universities says the announcement couldn’t come soon enough.

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“In a time when universities are struggling with a range of significant drops in revenue, another issue with universities is many of our costs are fixed costs,” said Bill Lahey, chair of the Council of Nova Scotia University Presidents.

“It’s important to understand that a lot of this money has already been spent, but it will mean universities have more of that stability that’s critically important.”

Read more: Dalhousie students ‘appalled’ by upcoming 3-per-cent tuition hike amid pandemic

Students Nova Scotia says it plans to continue monitoring how the money is spent in order to hold universities to account.

“Any investment into post-secondary is a good investment, we’re just hoping it impacts students in a positive way,” said Graham.