Thursday, January 05, 2012

Addressing Funding for Nova Scotia Universities

Earlier today, Hon. Marilyn More, Minister, Labour and Advanced Education, announced the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), including the 2012-13 Operating Grant to Nova Scotia's universities. The universities have been working with representatives from the Province over the past six months to establish a new agreement and determine the funding (operating grant) for the coming year. One of the other areas that we discussed was how best universities can access funds that would allow for collaborative innovation initiatives and cost savings across our universities. 

The key elements of the announcement include:
  • Three-year agreement between 2012 and 2015
  • Annual tuition rate increases to be limited to 3%
  • 3% reduction in funding to universities for 2012-13
  • All university Presidents and Province to be part of a Partnership for Excellence, to support increased collaboration and communication on key issues facing universities and the Province
  • $25 million will be available in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 to support projects designed to reduce university operating costs
As part of the Mount’s annual planning and financial management, we will be engaging in discussions with the campus community and our Board of Governors to determine how best to manage the impact of the reduction in our grant. The Mount has a long history of living within its means, having operated with a balanced budget for almost two decades. We’ve taken every opportunity to use our resources efficiently, benefiting, for example, from partnership purchasing and from our recent conversion to natural gas.

The Mount is also engaged in many collaborative partnerships with other universities for the benefit of our students. We do look forward to possible benefits to be gained as a result of the Innovation Fund, which could include pursuit of greater collaboration among universities and potential efficiency improvements.  In addition, the Partnership for Excellence provides an opportunity to address critical issues such as the funding formula, tuition policy and capital funding.

Along with my Nova Scotia colleagues, I am disappointed with the Government’s decision to reduce funding to universities, as they did last year. The Mount, along with the other universities, is a significant contributor to the economic growth and cultural and social vibrancy of Nova Scotia, and these further cuts will undoubtedly have a negative effect on our ability to help our province remain attractive and competitive. We will continue to work with the Province and our sister universities to build on past successes, and I am confident that we will maintain the Mount’s significant contribution to higher education in Nova Scotia.

Ramona Lumpkin, PhD
President and Vice-Chancellor
Mount Saint Vincent University