Nova Scotians paying more than their fair share for post-secondary education – Report

May 11, 2011
Halifax – The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia (CCPA-NS) released a new report today which shows that Nova Scotia students and their families are paying almost three times as much as the provincial government.
The report, entitled Fairness, Funding and our Collective Future: a way forward for post-secondary education in Nova Scotia, shows that the largest part of the cost of a university education is not tuition fees; it is the cost of the income students forgo while they attend univer­sity.
“This report reveals that Nova Scotia students and their families are contributing more than their fair share for a post-secondary education,” says Elise Graham, Chairperson for the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia.
 Assuming a student would have been able to work full-time at the minimum wage, they are giving up approximately $20,000 per year in wages in addition to paying for tuition fees, books and transportation. A conservative estimate of the total cost to the student is roughly $26,000 per year. The government contributed $9,509 per student in 2010–2011.
The authors call on the government to stop underestimating both the individual cost of pursuing a post-secondary education as well as the benefits to society as a whole.
Author and director of the CCPA-NS, Christine Saulnier says, “The Nova Scotia government needs to rethink its entire approach to this sector before it is too late. We can’t afford to lose the social benefits or create barriers to attracting or retaining students.”
The report recommends that the government: expand the public investment in post-secondary education substantially, ensure that there is more public accountability and transparency within the system and make sure funding is used as fairly, effectively and efficiently as possible. The authors also single out disturbing trends where private interests risk undermining the accessibil­ity, equity and quality of the system.
According to James Sawler, Associate Professor of Economics at Mount Saint Vincent University and co-author, “The additional revenue generated by post-secondary graduates through their income taxes is enough to justify our recommendation to enhance public funding.”
"At a time when other provinces, such as Manitoba and New Brunswick, have recognized that providing high quality university education is part of the solution to economic problems, it is time for the Dexter government to wake up and stop offering policies that failed 15 years ago," added Chris Ferns, President of the Association of Nova Scotia University Teachers (ANSUT).
For more information or to arrange interviews in either English or French, contact Christine Saulnier at (902) 477-1252.
Copies of the report will be available at the press conference to be held Wednesday, May 11, 2011, 11 am in the Senior Common Room, Arts and Administrative Building, University of King’s College, 6350 Coburg Road. The report is now available here: