Differential university tuition fees will pose no barrier to the recruitment of out-of-province students, two Halifax university presidents say.
“Over the last two years, while tuition fees were rising, we actually continued to attract ever more students into our first year from out-of-province,” said Tom Traves, Dalhousie University president and Association of Atlantic Universities chair.
Despite a 3.4 per cent enrolment drop in Nova Scotia between 2004-05 and 2006-07, Traves says the number of students from Ontario has risen.
“There’s no evidence to suggest that the current level of tuition fees is a deterrent to out-of-province students,” Traves said.
The province’s tuition funding agreement announced yesterday says tuition will be between $761 and $1,022 cheaper for Nova Scotian students than for out-of-province Canadians. Tuition levels will be frozen for everyone and out-of-province Canadians will see a $261 tuition reduction in 2010.
Saint Mary’s University president Colin Dodds agreed with Traves, pointing out that other provinces are raising tuition.
Dalhousie University student Michael Pullen, who hails from Burlington, Ont., said the “discriminatory” agreement is a big turnoff, especially since he’s already paying sky-high tuition fees.
“If I were to start my university career over again, I would totally write off Nova Scotia,” said the third-year political science and international development student.
“It’s almost enough to make me want to stop going to university here right now and just leave.”
Other critics said the province has to do more to attract out-of-province students to make up for shrinking demographics in Nova Scotia.
Liberal deputy leader Diana Whalen said the province hasn’t gone far enough to help all students.
“We really need to cater to all the students that we can attract here,” Whalen said.
“This is an economic engine of growth for us.”