Continued commitment to students

A message from Brian Jessop, Vice President, Administration

Last night, Mount Saint Vincent University’s Board of Governors approved a 2015/16 budget for the University, as prepared by the University Budget Committee. In keeping with our commitment to open and timely information sharing, I want to provide an update for our stakeholders and partners.

Each year, the University Budget Committee meets throughout the winter months to provide input on and review drafts of the plan. The University Budget Committee consists of 17 members including students, faculty and staff representatives.

The Mount has a solid track record of focusing on our students while being financially responsible. We’ve operated a balanced budget for more than two decades and continue to build on that record for the 2015/16 year.

While the Province has recently announced a one per cent increase in the government grant, this will not address costs as they continue to increase. The University is focused on increasing enrolments and improving student retention and we are seeking efficiencies where possible. At the same time, we are required to address the gap in funding as costs increase.

The Board and associated committees took into consideration the importance of maintaining student services and a continued commitment to academic excellence and student success. The University will ensure funding is maintained for key student services including counseling and disability services.

The University is also focused on providing students with new and improved classroom and learning spaces. The new Margaret Norrie McCain Centre for Teaching, Learning and Research (McCain Centre) will open in May and provide students with classrooms and meeting rooms featuring the newest technologies. The Mount will partially offset the operating costs associated with this new Centre through savings achieved as part of our sustainability or energy reduction projects.

The Mount’s commitment to provide financial support to students will increase to over $2 million in 2015/16. This includes the availability of $1.85 million in scholarships, awards, and bursaries, as well as $280,000 in tuition waivers and discounts.

As part of our balanced budget, the Board approved a three per cent increase in tuition. For a full-time (based on five units of credit) undergrad Arts student, a three per cent tuition increase is the equivalent of $187.50 per year. The Board also approved a four per cent increase to the differential for international students.

The decision to increase tuition was not taken lightly. We’ve taken every opportunity to reduce costs where possible while making wise investments to operate efficiently, support students through scholarships and bursaries, and provide services and facilities to meet the needs of the Mount community.

The Province recently announced that Universities could make one-time market adjustments to tuition, to charge similar amounts for similar programs at other universities, after which it will reinstate a three per cent cap on tuition increases for Nova Scotia undergrads. There will no longer be any government cap on tuition increases for out-of-province or graduate students. Giving the timing of this announcement and the budget planning period, we will not be pursuing a one-time market adjustment as part of our 2015/16 budget. There are many complexities relative to a tuition market adjustment and we want to take the time to consult with our community and explore these matters fully.

The Mount remains committed to providing our students with access to a high quality education and learning experience.