Nova Scotia university tuition highest in Canada and climbing faster, report says – Halifax


A new report has found Nova Scotia has the highest tuition costs in the country, and they’re increasing at a faster rate.

It warns there are many barriers that might keep some university students out of the classroom as the cost of living continues to rise.

“It’s a little nerve-wracking. I’m not going to lie,” says environmental sciences student Sophia Murphy who was walking along Dalhousie University’s campus on Monday.

She’s one of many undergraduates who say they’re worried about rising costs.

Click to play video: 'Canadian students and advocates conflicted on international student cap'

Canadian students and advocates conflicted on international student cap

In a recent report, advocacy group Students Nova Scotia has found the average tuition for domestic undergrads in Canada has increased three per cent over the last six years to $6,8341.

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In Nova Scotia, however, it has seen a 20-per cent jump from $7,718 to $9,328 over the same time period.

That’s 36.5 per cent above the national average.

“It’s really hard because you work all summer,” says Murphy. “No matter how hard you work you still can’t afford housing — and tuition on top of that, it’s nearly impossible.”

Click to play video: 'Halifax post-secondary students struggle to find housing ahead of school year'

Halifax post-secondary students struggle to find housing ahead of school year

The chair of Students Nova Scotia says undergrads are up against many challenges, with financial barriers being the biggest.

“It’s also housing and the cost of groceries and textbooks and other cost of living things, which with all of the inflationary pressures this year, are really on the rise,” says Matt Doyle.

“That’s starting to affect students.”

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He says those challenges also make social barriers greater.

“If you come from one of these marginalized communities where, for example, your parents don’t have a post-secondary degree, you may not be able to picture yourself going to one of these institutions,” he says. ”

“While socioeconomic status is a huge predictor of post-secondary attainment, the largest predictor, in fact, is parental educational status. Getting over those barriers is the first step, really.”

Some students are looking for ways to offset costs.

“I live with my parents,” says third-year student Jack Myra. “I can’t afford a car, but it’s alright. The high tuition prices — they definitely suck.”

Jack Myra is going into his third year of post-secondary studies and says it’s tough trying to cover tuition along with the high cost of living.

Skye Bryden-Blom/Global News

Others are worried about continuing their studies beyond their undergraduate degree. Rio Sharp is a fourth-year Pre-Law student who wants to continue her studies.

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She says her parents have covered her undergrad, but she’s worried about the future.

“I’m definitely going to have to go into student debt after this year when I have to pay for my own,” she says. “I’m probably looking at going to a difference province just because I can’t afford to be here.”

Students Nova Scotia wants to see government cap tuition at a one-per cent increase instead of three. The province is currently negotiating the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with its 10 universities. The current MOU will expire in March 2024.

The Department of Advanced Education declined a request by Global News for an interview, but did provide a statement.

“As a department, we continue to look for ways to help make post-secondary education more accessible for students,” the statement says.

“This includes looking at all aspects of affordability in order to reduce student debt and make it easier for students to stay and build a life here after they graduate.”

The department points to several initiatives available to support students. For example, those who choose to stay in Nova Scotia after they graduate pay zero per cent interest on the provincial portion of their loan.

The department also says Nova Scotia offers the “most generous student loan program in the country” for students in need.

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Eligible students may also have their entire provincial loan forgiven through the Nova Scotia Loan Forgiveness Program.

The province was not able to provide any updates on the MOU negotiations.

“As we are currently working on the next agreement, it is still too early to comment on the details,” the statement says.

Students Nova Scotia says it’s important to make sure education remains accessible for all.

“It’s important that students are treated fairly and have a good shot at getting their degree and going on to become active participants in the economy,” says Doyle.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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