Minister Kelly Regan
Department of Labour and Advanced Education
6th Floor, 5151 Terminal Road
P.O. Box 697
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Dear Minister Kelly Regan,
I write to you on behalf of the Carleton University Graduate Students’ Association, which represents approximately 4,000 graduate students. In solidarity with the students of Nova Scotia, we oppose the Government of Nova Scotia’s decision to deregulate tuition, allowing for multi-year tuition fee resets.
Over the next three years, it is expected that deregulation will cause tuition rates to increase by up to 18% at Cape Breton University, 20% at Mount Saint Vincent University, 24% at the University of King’s College, 35% at Saint Mary’s University, and 37% at NSCAD University. With expected fee increases of a similar scale to be announced at Nova Scotia’s other universities, your claim – as quoted in a CTV News article published April 19, 2015 – that most students won’t be affected by the adjustment is incorrect and negligent.
Increasing tuition limits the ability of students to pursue a post-secondary education and disproportionately affects those who cannot afford this fee upfront. Students who are left to take on massive amounts of debt are often financially unable to start families, buy homes, and start businesses. Accessible post-secondary education, on the other hand, does not only benefit students, but it also plays a key role in the social, economic, and cultural well being of societies. A well-educated population is vital in producing a highly skilled workforce to build the province’s economy.
Deregulating graduate student fees will have additional long-term consequences for the province. Graduate students in many disciplines work as teaching assistants and university researchers, which directly influences the quality of undergraduate education. Their knowledge and services help the university to meet economic and social needs within an increasingly competitive market. In this way, the quality of education taught at Nova Scotia universities relies on a university’s ability to attract and retain a strong and vibrant cohort of students. Added financial constraints for these students will limit the amount of time they have to focus on their degrees, teaching assistantships and research positions.
In addition, failing to remain competitive for out-of-province students will result in the decreased enrolment and retention rates of these populations . As a third of university students studying in Nova Scotia come from other provinces, it’s no secret that the government and universities heavily rely on the revenue received from these students to operate successfully. With skyrocketing out-of-province fees, the government is taking a dangerous risk.
It is time that the Government of Nova Scotia stops downloading the burden of university funding onto the backs of students. We urge you to immediately cancel the tuition reset process, reduce tuition fees, and restore public funding to universities.
Vice President Operations
Graduate Students’ Association
Local 78, Canadian Federation of Students