Manitoba’s largest universities have applauded the NDP’s willingness to continue providing a 2.5 per cent increase in operating grants despite the economic pressures on the government.

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Manitoba’s largest universities have applauded the NDP’s willingness to continue providing a 2.5 per cent increase in operating grants despite the economic pressures on the government.

Tuition increases remain capped at the rate of economic growth, which will be 1.9 per cent for fees paid this coming fall.

Despite the increased grants, both the University of Manitoba and the University of Winnipeg said today they face cuts to achieve balanced budgets.

"This increase is more than some other provinces have realized, and builds on the consistent support that has been offered to post-secondary education in Manitoba in recent years. It is good to see that this government continues to show its support for the post-secondary sector and confidence in the sector’s ability to contribute to a prosperous future for our province," U of M president David Barnard said in a news release.

"Universities in Manitoba are still facing significant challenges," said Barnard. "The level of funding presented by the provincial government today is good news, although it does not remove all the pressure on post-secondary institutions in this province."

Barnard also cited the province’s increase to student aid by almost $5 million to fulfill its commitment to making student loans interest-free.

"The University of Winnipeg appreciates the contribution to our operating budget announced today by the provincial government and the ongoing commitment to invest in stable funding for universities and colleges," U of W president Annette Trimbee said in a news release. "We know this is not the case in many other provinces where post-secondary institutions face funding freezes or reductions."

But, said Trimbee, the U of W still faces historic inequities which place its funding on a per-student basis well below the U of M and Brandon University.

"Even though we have significant spending restraints in place, we will be facing a shortfall of several millions of dollars this coming fiscal year," Trimbee said.

The U of M board of governors will pass a budget May 19 that is expected to have overall cuts of about four per cent, while the U of W will set its budget in June.