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Advocates want tuition lowered before students return to school

A coalition of higher education unions in Nova Scotia has come together to demand reduced tuition, increased bursaries, and no layoffs for faculty and professors.
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A Canadian Federation of Students rally in Halifax (photo Victoria Walton /

A coalition of higher education unions in Nova Scotia has come together to demand reduced tuition, increased bursaries, and no layoffs for faculty and professors.

“Everyone’s come together, many faculty, staff and students representing 16 unions and 18,000 students spanning from Sydney to Yarmouth,” says Joanna Clark, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students Nova Scotia, one of the groups who is advocating for students amid the pandemic.

Clark tells NEWS 95.7’s The Todd Veinotte Show that at the end of last month, the group sent an open letter to government and university administration with their proposal.

“It’s clear that this isn’t an area where we can afford to make cuts if we want to ensure a functioning society after the pandemic,” Clark explains. “So basically we’ve asked for an immediate significant reduction in tuition fees, because Nova Scotia actually has the highest tuition fees in the entire country.”

For many students who were already struggling to make ends meet, Clark says that not having a summer job due to the pandemic means that thousands of dollars in tuition fees are unaffordable.

“If students have to choose between paying rent or getting groceries and continuing their education, obviously their basic needs are going to take priority,” she says.

The group is asking for no lay-offs in academia because of the amount of COVID-19 research being done in universities.

“It is truly essential that these groups of people be able to continue their work on the front lines if we hope to see a future without the pandemic looming,” says Clark.

Clark says if universities don’t reduce tuition, they may see a massive gap in enrollment this fall as students choose to take gap years.

“There have been articles and interviews and surveys done that a lot of students are considering putting school off for a year,” she says.

And there’s no guarantee that on-campus classes will return, meaning students won’t get the same experience as they would have in the past.

“Much of the experience that people were looking forward to is now lost,” Clark says. “A huge dilemma students are facing is, do I really want to pay for something that I’m no longer getting the experience that I’ve always dreamed of."

The group says that tuition reductions must be hefty to encourage these students to continue their post-secondary education from home, with decreased income.

“A small couple hundred dollars, that’s not going to cut it,” says Clark. “It needs to be very significant to ensure that students can really focus on their education and not worrying about bills and going further into debt.”

Victoria  Walton

About the Author: Victoria Walton

Victoria is's weekend editor and a Halifax-based freelancer. She is originally from Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
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