NEWS
08/03/2017 16:43 EDT | Updated 08/04/2017 13:42 EDT

More funds for Cape Breton University in wake of disclosure of money for Acadia

HALIFAX — Nova Scotia's government said Thursday it has committed to provide additional money to Cape Breton University, just days after it emerged publicly that Acadia University has been receiving extra funding.

Both Premier Stephen McNeil and Labi Kousoulis, the minister of advanced education, said Thursday that the Cape Breton school is now also on track to get funding, though they won't say how much.

A spokesperson for Kousoulis said Thursday evening that the decision to give Cape Breton University more funding was made in June.

Figures released last week in public accounts documents showed that Acadia received $10.5 million in additional appropriations the last fiscal year.

The money included $7 million to cover a federal loan and an extra $3.5 million for the school's operating grant. In addition, the school received $3.5 million in the previous three years, for a total of $24.5 million since 2008.

Board members at Cape Breton University have said they hadn't heard of this additional funding, which they too had sought since 2008. Kousoulis said he'd be filling them in during an afternoon meeting.

Kousoulis said after a cabinet meeting Thursday that his department has looked at the two universities' finances and made changes to their funding levels.

He said they were the only two colleges hurt in 2008 when operating grants were changed to provide more funding for universities with higher enrolments.

"We've looked at the situation for Acadia University and Cape Breton University, the only ones that were negatively impacted. We looked at why they were negatively impacted and we adjusted their base funding ... going forward," he said.

Acadia has said it lost about $7 million as a result of the 2008 changes to its operating grant.

That change also hurt Cape Breton University, but Kousoulis said the overall financial situations of the two universities differed at the time.

The cabinet minister said their request "was not warranted at the time."

He said the university's measures to control costs and increase enrolment have changed the assessment of its eligibility for increased funding.

"Both universities have made significant strides in managing their finances. The government expected them to be accountable with their finances and if they weren't moving along that road they wouldn't be receiving more funding," he said.

Kousoulis said Acadia had made the most progress in the province in reducing its costs, and is responsible for about half of the province's overall enrolment increase of about 2,000 students.