News release

Agreements with Universities Prioritize Student Needs, Government Priorities

Advanced Education
Minister Brian Wong speaks to a group of students

Advanced Education Minister Brian Wong, bottom centre, speaks to students at Saint Mary’s University after a government announcement in March 2023. (Communications Nova Scotia / File)

New one-year funding agreements with the province’s 10 universities will cap tuition increases and spur more action on student housing.

The bilateral agreements for 2024-25 also tie a portion of funding to performance targets. They will replace the current memorandum of understanding (MoU) with universities when it expires March 31.

“We have an incredible opportunity to remain a top education destination and position the university sector for the bold vision we have for our province,” said Brian Wong, Minister of Advanced Education. “These agreements take a student-centred approach and recognize the unique differences of each university. We have built in several accountability measures tied to student housing, healthcare training and planning for a more sustainable and successful future.”

The 2024-25 agreements include:

  • a two per cent cap on tuition increases for all Nova Scotian undergraduate students, compared with the three per cent cap under the previous agreement
  • a requirement to fill health program seats to an average enrolment rate of at least 97 per cent
  • a requirement for institutions to develop international student sustainability plans outlining how these students will be recruited, housed and connected to the labour market
  • a requirement for universities in Halifax Regional Municipality and Cape Breton Regional Municipality (areas where student housing needs are highest) to begin to increase student housing
  • a requirement for institutions to work together to develop an inter-university plan to reduce administrative expenses by a minimum of five per cent
  • a minimum tuition increase of nine per cent for first-year international undergraduate student tuition (except for Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College, because of an increase in the previous year).

The agreements also provide a two per cent increase in annual operating grants for most universities, up from one per cent in the expiring MoU signed in 2019. Dalhousie’s grant will be the same as in 2023-24.

Some of the operating grant will be held back until universities achieve specific targets within their agreements.

Each university is also expected to develop proposals for 2025 to 2028 that outline how they will advance government priorities such as healthcare, housing and supporting labour market needs. This work will inform longer-term agreements between the Province and universities to be finalized in the coming year.

Quick Facts:

  • universities received $461.4 million from the government in 2023-24
  • additional operating funding for the one-year agreements is estimated to be $3.6 million
  • the agreements will continue to provide a special purpose fund of more than $1 million to support sexual violence prevention and e-mental health tools
  • the $1,283 Nova Scotia University Student Bursary will continue to be available to Nova Scotian students (based on a full-time course load)
  • in 2022-23, Nova Scotia universities had a total of 12,212 international students (25 per cent of total university enrolment)

NOTE: In Quick Facts, the amount of additional operating funding and the students eligible for the Nova Scotia University Student Bursary were corrected February 2, 2024.

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