Education Minister Jamie Muir introduced legislation today, Oct.1, to replace the act that now governs the Maritime ProvincesHigher Education Commission (MPHEC) and to strengthen regionalco-operation in higher education. The proposed Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission Actbetter reflects the commission’s renewed and refocused mandate.The commission has been operating under a new mandate since 1997when the three provinces signed a memorandum of understanding forregional co-operation. “Working together with the other provinces as a member of theMPHEC makes sense for our students, our universities and theprovince,” said Education Minister Jamie Muir. “The MaritimeProvinces Higher Education Commission helps ensure our studentscontinue to benefit from quality programs and our universitieshave the solid information they need to help with long-termplanning.” MPHEC is an agency of the Council of Atlantic Premiers. Under its current mandate, MPHEC has four core functions. It approves new university programs and monitors the quality ofexisting programs for continuous improvement. The approvals andmonitoring ensure quality programs are offered at Maritimeinstitutions and reduce duplication. The commission collects, maintains and distributes informationabout the post-secondary education system in the Maritimes. Italso conducts commissioned research. Projects include graduatesurveys and accessibility studies. These functions support publicaccountability and inform the development of effective post-secondary education policies, programs and initiatives. Finally, MPHEC facilitates the transfer of funds betweenprovinces for specialty programs such as medicine at Dalhousie,forestry in New Brunswick and veterinary science in Prince EdwardIsland. The new MPHEC legislation is one of many provincial initiativesunderway to enhance regional co-operation and post-secondaryeducation. The province is continuing to work with universitypresidents on a memorandum of understanding. The understandingwill provide three-year funding to help universities to minimizetuition increases and to help support long range planning. The province is also working with other Atlantic provinces on aproposal to the federal government to help universities addressthe cost of maintaining buildings. The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission is funded bythe provinces and reports to the ministers responsible for post-secondary education. There are eleven universities in NovaScotia. As a result, the province to provides 52 per cent of theMPHEC funding. The province’s contribution was more than $580,000in 2004-05. Legislation to renew the MPHEC mandate was introduced andassented to in P.E.I. in 2002 and New Brunswick in 2003. It wasfirst introduced in the Nova Scotia Legislature in spring of 2002(Bill 104). It received second reading, but did not receive thirdreading. Proclamation of the legislation will be co-ordinatedamong the three provinces.