March 28, 2008

Students Worried about Commitment to Tuition Fee Reduction

HALIFAX–As the province’s fiscal year comes to a close, students are calling on the government to ensure that making post-secondary education affordable and accessible for all students is a priority in the next year. The provincial government’s recent warnings to Nova Scotians that they may have to cut services because of flat revenues, and the premier’s recent comments that only students from Nova Scotia would be seeing relief, have students worried that the government is not going to fulfill it’s promise to reduce tuition fees to the national average.

“The Progressive Conservative government allowed tuition fees to increase by more than $2,000 during their tenure causing students to take on mortgage-sized debts upon graduation” said Kaley Kennedy, Nova Scotia representative of the Canadian Federation of Students. “Students can’t wait an longer for relief.”

Students in Nova Scotia pay the highest tuition fees and compulsory fees in the country, at almost $7,000 per year for an undergraduate degree and over $1,500 above the national average. While the government offered some tuition fee relief to students, thousands of students were shut out of tuition fee rebates because they did not grow up in Nova Scotia. About one quarter of students who come to the province for school plan on staying in the province after graduation.

A recent report from the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission also found that high tuition fees are a key factor in Nova Scotia’s declining enrolments.

“With declining enrolments and shifting demographics, the government is in no place to be discouraging young people from coming to our province for an education,” continued Kennedy. “We should be welcoming students from all regions with open arms.”