The provincial budget will be the final word, but it now seems certain that Dalhousie students will pay lower tuition in September.
Dalhousie President Tom Traves, an optimist in all things save political promises, about which he reserves a healthy skepticism, says all signs point to positive financial news for university students.
The university has received confirmation from the Department of Education that the budget the department submits to cabinet for approval will include an additional $36.5-million in funding for universities. Based on the existing funding formula with the provinceÕs universities, Dalhousie would receive close to half of that sum.
Dr. Traves said if the province comes through at that level Ð which is the same increase the governing Tories promised during last springÕs provincial election campaign Ð tuition for most Dalhousie students will drop by $365 in the fall.
Meanwhile, Nova ScotiaÕs Finance Minister Michael Baker has been trying to dampen expectations that the provincial budget will be a good news offering. HeÕs expressed concerns that reductions in federal equalization payments could lead to budget cuts or force the government to back away from, or slow down implementation of some of the promises in the ToriesÕ platform. A centrepiece of that platform was the promise to reduce undergraduate tuition fees by $1,000 over four years, beginning this year.
Federal sources have disputed the ministerÕs depressed numbers, claiming Nova Scotia will receive increased funding this year in combined equalization and payments from the federal/provincial offshore oil and gas accord.
In addition, the expected fix to the so-called Ôfiscal imbalanceÕ between the federal and provincial governments should add many millions to provincial revenues when the federal budget is unveiled in March.
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