A billboard promoting Halifax’s Saint Mary’s University is creating some controversy in Sydney.

The sign reads ‘The right future is worth the drive to Halifax’ but the message is leaving a sour taste in the mouths of some Cape Breton University students.

“It’s kind of talking down on CBU,” says student Emily Smith. “I feel like it’s saying that Saint Mary’s is better.”

But the man in charge of recruiting for CBU says it’s just a marketing strategy and shouldn’t be taken personally.

“It’s a billboard. We have billboards across Atlantic Canada and central Canada and Saint Mary’s have chosen to do one up on Welton Street,” says Keith Brown, vice-president of international affairs at CBU. “That’s not unusual.”

Saint Mary’s has also placed signs in Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John.

The university says Cape Breton has always been a strong market for recruiting students to Halifax.

“One of our key attractors is that we are in Halifax, so research shows that being in Halifax is attractive to young people, attractive to people going to university, so location, location is one of the features that we’re pushing in the billboards,” says Margaret Murphy.

Despite the message on the billboard, CBU says surveys show students are happy with the quality of education available at the university.

“I love CBU,” says student Jessica Lawson. “This is my second year here. Everything here is so much fun. All my friends are here. I love my classes. I love my major.”

“If everyone understands the spirit in which it was put out there, it was meant to say look at us,” says Murphy. “Look at the fact we’re in Halifax and we want Cape Breton students.”

But some CBU students say that message wasn’t well thought out.

“They could have come up with a better slogan than what they put on the billboard,” says Smith.

CBU says there are no immediate plans to respond with a campaign to counter Saint Mary’s message.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Kyle Moore