Nova Scotia is launching a new round of public consultations into the role of universities in the province. The government will reach out to students, faculty, campus staff, university Presidents, businesses, and the international community to collect ideas on how universities can help improve the provincial economy and keep young people in NS. “Nova Scotia universities are among the top in the country in terms of bringing in international students. So we’re at the forefront of that, but it’s to make sure that there’s a good alignment between the needs of the province and what universities are providing,” said Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Kelly Regan. Among the issues to be considered in the consultation process is how to make higher education more affordable for students. The latest round of consultations follows a report submitted to the province 4 years ago by economist Tim O’Neill, who recommended tying operating grants to population growth, government spending growth, or GDP, as well as exploring mergers, private-public partnerships, and tuition increases. The sessions are expected to lead to the release of a “vision paper” in early 2015.