HALIFAX (CUP) - Nova Scotia universities need $22-million dollars more per year from the provincial government to maintain current programs and stabilize tuition fees, recommends an education advisory council.|
The recommendation was made by the Nova Scotia Council on Higher Education, which was struck two years ago to come up with a funding formula for the province's 11 universities.
A draft copy of funding recommendations released by the council earlier this month states that provincial funding to post-secondary institutions in Nova Scotia should increase to $197-million from $175-million annually "as quickly as [the government's] financial situation will allow."
"This increase in funding is very important," Susan Clark, council executive director, said. "We think that what it costs to deliver the system is really more than the government has allocated. The government is about $22-million short to pay for what the system actually costs."
Provincial funding for Nova Scotia universities has dropped to $175-million this year from $212-million in 1993-94. Funding is projected to decline another $4-million under the province's fiscal plan.
The council states that in this same time frame, tuition fees at Nova Scotia universities have increased
| by 40 per cent and there has been a 2.6 per cent decrease in enrollment.|
"New money is required now," Clark said. "We need the minister [of education] and the government to understand why increased funding is significant and what the trade off is ‹ higher tuition or cutbacks [to programs]."
Dalhousie University Students' Union president Chris Adams says he is definitely encouraged by the council's recommendations.
"The council has recognized and realized that universities are chronically underfunded in Nova Scotia," he said.
"If we don't get more money from the province... students could be faced with skyrocketing student debt."
In addition to calling for an overall increase in funding, the council made recommendations for revisions to the allocation of provincial funds among Nova Scotia's universities.
The funding formula takes into account a variety of factors, including fees charged to international and domestic students, the portion of schoolsâ budgets allocated for teaching and research, number of part-time students in attendance and distance from the Metropolitan Halifax area.
Under the new funding formula, all Nova Scotia schools would see their funding either remain constant or increase. Dalhousie, for example, would receive $8-million more, increasing its funding to $93.7-million annually. |
But the new plan would reduce the university's share of the total funding available.
Dalhousie president Tom Traves says while he welcomes the recommendation for additional funding, the school should not be allocated a smaller portion of the pie at a time when it is being asked to do more by the province.
"As Nova Scotia's only research university, Dalhousie must contribute to provincial development if we want to prosper in the future," he said. "It makes no sense to us to reduce our share of funding given that urgent provincial priority."
St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish would benefit the most from the new formula, seeing its provincial funding increase 32.6 per cent, to $16.8-million annually from $13.3-million.
The final draft of the council's report on provincial funding will be presented to the Nova Scotia government by mid-February. Clark says she hopes the report will influence the provincial budget, preparation of which will be underway at the time.