Nova Scotia

Dalhousie University scraps 63% tuition hike for architecture program after backlash

Dalhousie University is backpedalling on a planned 63 per cent tuition increase for its master of architecture program after an outcry from students.

Students found out about the increase just weeks before the program was supposed to start this summer. 

The change in cost would have meant those enrolled in the graduate program would have paid approximately $7,000 more per term, according to one student.

“It was alarming,” said Kaylee Peters, who just completed the undergraduate architecture program at Dalhousie.

Peters said initially she thought the hike had to be a mistake. Her classmates did, too.

“Initially we thought it must be 6.3 per cent,” she said. “We’re like, ‘Oh, it was a typo.'”

Because Dalhousie’s master’s program starts almost immediately after the undergraduate program finishes, Peters said it left many students trying to figure out how they’d cover tuition.

“You didn’t even have time to go to the bank let alone try to figure out how to apply for student loans,” she said.

Many students are already struggling to pay for tuition, rent and groceries, but this drastically increases financial pressures, Peters said. 

Master of architecture student Kaylee Peters would like to see tuition increase caps that exist for Nova Scotia undergraduate students extended to those enrolled in graduate programs. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

A spokesperson for Dalhousie University said no one was available to comment on the planned tuition increase.

Graham Gagnon, dean of the faculty of architecture and planning, shared a message with students and faculty that they’ve heard the feedback from students.

Revoking the planned tuition increase affirms “our commitment to affordability, accessibility and the holistic well-being of our students,” Gagnon said in the message. 

“In the Faculty of Architecture and Planning our students are at the heart of everything we do,” he said.

Copy of the letter to students and faculty.
The faculty of architecture and planning says it will revert to a two per cent tuition increase. (Dalhousie University)

Peters and other students wonder what it might mean for future students if there’s not a tuition increase this year, she said. 

Under provincial rules, tuition for a Nova Scotia undergraduate student is capped at a two per cent increase. But the rule does not apply to tuition for graduate students. 

Universities are independently governed institutions that can make decisions that are appropriate for their operations, including determining tuition for graduate programs, a spokesperson for the Department of Advanced Education said in a statement. 

“I absolutely think there should be some sort of cap on graduate students,” Peters said.

Peters said she would like the university to go a step further and have tuition rates locked in for the entirety of a student’s time in a program.

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