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Nova Scotia students resist NDP cuts

David Bush

January 17, 2012

On January 5, Darrel Dexter’s Nova Scotia NDP government released a three-year memorandum of understanding (MOU) it signed with the province’s 11 universities. The MOU allows for a yearly three per cent rise in tuition with a corresponding three per cent reduction in funding for post-secondary education (PSE).

The MOU does not place caps on tuition for international students and students in dental, medicine or law programs. The MOU does provide $25 million of funding that universities can compete for to enact cuts.

The NDP, in opposition, starkly opposed the under-funding of PSE in Nova Scotia and the high levels of tuition fees students paid. However, since coming to power in 2009, the NDP has scrapped the tuition freeze, slashed funding to PSE and threatened the wholesale destruction of one Canada’s premier fine arts universities, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD).

NSCAD faces a $2.4 million budget shortfall that is the result of administrative mismanagement and the false promises of the provincial government. The Dexter government is dangling the appropriate funds to cover the shortfall but at the price of massive cuts.

Students and staff at NSCAD and indeed across the province are being asked to shoulder the weight of the NDP’s attempt to balance the budget deficit of $365-million. The budget crisis is about choices, and the NDP has been more than willing to spend money on absurd business projects such as the new downtown Halifax convention centre.

The student movement is not taking this lying down. NSCAD students and staff have been holding town halls and campaigning against their destruction for the last several months. Students at all 11 universities are planning on holding a massive province wide protest for the National Student Day of Action on February 1. Organizers are planning for a bigger turnout than last years’ student day of action that saw over 2000 students march on province house.

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