Students walk outside the Killam Library on the Dalhousie campus. (Andrew Kudel)

N.S. has second-highest undergraduate tuition fees

Ontario now has most expensive average tuition

For the 2009-2010 academic year Nova Scotia has the second highest undergraduate tuition fees in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.

On average, undergraduate students in Nova Scotia are paying $5,696. Ontario has the highest undergraduate tuition fees with students paying $5,951. The Canadian national average undergraduate tuition fees are $4,917 per year.

According to the Statistics Canada report there was a 3.1 per cent decrease in tuition cost for students in Nova Scotia in comparison to last year. Nova Scotia was the only province to have a reduction in tuition fees.

The reason: the government of Nova Scotia's commitment to lower tuition to meet the national average. Although there was a decrease in average undergraduate tuition costs, Nova Scotia has had the highest undergraduate tuition fees for a number of years.

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Students walk to class at the Dalhousie Studley campus. (Andrew Kudel)

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DSU president Shannon Zimmerman comments on Nova Scotia tuition.

The Association of Atlantic Universities reports that there are 31,299 full-time undergraduate students in Nova Scotia. The students who are affected by the high tuition costs are being represented by the Canadian Federation of Students that lobbies governments to lower undergraduate tuition and address student concerns.

Rebecca Rose, Maritimes orgraniser for the Canadian Federation of Students, says the report from Statistics Canada has some issues.

"The report is a little misleading. It said that tuition went down 3.1 per cent but that accounts for a rebate. So, it's not an upfront fee reduction," she said.

Tuition has been frozen in Nova Scotia since 2008, says Rose. The results from Statistics Canada are skewed because they include a rebate that students who are residents of Nova Scotia are eligible for. The rebate is worth $267 per year.

Rose says that the rebate is not a true reduction in undergraduate tuition fees. Only students, who are residents of Nova Scotia, are eligible for the reduction.

Another issue that has hindered the Canadian Federation of Students attempts to lower tuition has been the changing of the provincial government in Nova Scotia.

"The NDP, since they took office, have been silent on what they are going to do to make education more accessible. We are not sure what their plan is to make education more accessible," says Rose.

Rose said that the provincial government should take a look at how a province such as Newfoundland has been able to keep their undergraduate tuition fees low.

Rose says the key to accessible education includes availability of student grants, low or no interest on student loans, tuition reductions and tuition freezes.

"Newfoundland has the second lowest undergraduate fees in the country. This is because Newfoundland has a comprehensive plan to make education accessible and to keep young people in the province," says Rose.

Shannon Zimmerman, president of the Dalhousie Student Union says that students are having a difficult time financing their post-secondary education.

"We are pushing for more provincial government funding into education costs and into the operating budgets of the universities," she said. "The expense of going to university is a very stressful aspect of going to school. It is important to have access to education."

In an effort to make education more accessible, the Canadian Federation of Students is preparing a petition to present to the provincial government in Nova Scotia. The goal is to lobby for more accessible education.

"We have 1,500 signatures on a petition and are continuing to gather more in an attempt to lower tuition fees," said Rose.


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