Update from the Board Chair
December 8, 2015

Today, the NSCAD Board of Governors voted in a majority decision to approve a tuition market adjustment, to be implemented starting in September 2016.

The change will ensure NSCAD’s future as a sustainable, strong and independent university of art and design, while impacting the lowest number of students, and ensuring students have the ability to choose how and when they are affected.

NSCAD’s tuition market adjustment, phased in over three years, will affect students who take five classes or more per semester; they will see an increase in tuition of between 7.7% and 9.1% each year until 2018-2019. It will not affect full-time students taking three or four classes per semester, or part-time students taking one or two classes per semester. If the reset was in place today, the change would affect 38% of the student body. A breakdown of the tuition market adjustment is included below.

In recent days there has been some misunderstanding related to the impacts on students and the process and context of this tuition adjustment. To be clear, NSCAD’s tuition is currently the lowest among all other Nova Scotia universities. Absolutely none of the increases are in the double digits. And after the adjustments, phased in over three years, NSCAD’s tuition will be neither the highest, nor will it be the lowest.

Our plans have been extensively shared and discussed over several months - with SUNSCAD representatives on the Board of Governors, and at three student consultations in the early fall this year.  The decision is also consistent with NSCAD’s Framework for Sustainability, passed unanimously by the Board in March 2012, which saw the need to bring fairness to its tuition structure in order to achieve a balanced budget and long-term sustainability. However, NSCAD was not able to do so until earlier this year when the Province gave all universities the one-time opportunity to make a tuition market adjustment.

There are also changes to graduate tuition. Currently, tuition at NSCAD is the same for undergraduate and graduate students—unusual in Canada. The adjustment increases graduate student tuition by 30 per cent to $8,270 a year for incoming Master of Design (MDes) and Master of Fine Art (MFA) students.

Decisions now for a stronger future

Over the past year we’ve had to make difficult decisions to ensure the long-term stability of our institution. In June, we reduced our workforce to make our operations more efficient. We are planning to reduce our real-estate holdings and continue to diligently focus on new sources of revenue through fundraising, rental properties and other means. NSCAD has successfully reduced its annual operating deficit every year since 2010/2011, and with this adjustment we are solidly on track to achieve a balanced budget in 2016-2017. 

As a highly specialist visual art and design university, the studio model at NSCAD is more expensive to deliver because classes are smaller, with enviably low student-to-faculty and student-to-technician ratios, while facility and equipment needs are greater. NSCAD’s additional student fees (on top of tuition) are also lower compared to the three other specialist arts universities in Canada; and it offers students 24-hour access to studios, a benefit not offered at other schools.

The Board appreciates and welcomes the thoughtful input

We do understand that a university education is costly and the Board of Governors is committed to concentrating more of its fundraising for bursaries and scholarships to mitigate the effect of the increase. We have heard from students that that is something they want us to do. Many students have reached out to us in support of all of the efforts to ensure the university will be healthy and successful for years to come. And they’ve asked really good questions, which I encourage others to review. (Please see: Tuition Market Adjustment Q and As)

Our top priority is to maintain the sustainability of the university, maintain current service levels, and continue to offer a high quality of education to students.


Jeff Somerville
Chair of the NSCAD Board of Governors

 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19
 3 credits - two semesters
$1,590 $1,590 $1,590 $1,590
 6 credits - two semesters
$3,180 $3,180 $3,180 $3,180
 9 credits - two semesters
$4,770 $4,770 $4,770 $4,770
 12 credits - two semesters
 $6,360 $6,360 $6,360
 15 credits - two semesters
$6,360 $6,939 $7,518 $8,097