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March 6, 2006 | by  | in Opinion |
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No more fees!

Over summer university fees at Victoria University increased by 5%. Arts students face a potential further 5% increase in trimester two if the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) grant an exception to the 5% limit on fee increases set out in the Fee Maxima policy. Since the government ended the fee freeze in 2003, fees were increased by 3% for 2004, 4.5% for 2005 and now 5% for 2006. So in three years fees at Victoria have gone up by 12.5%. And if the exemption is approved by the TEC by trimester two, arts students will have had fees increased by 17.5%.

While the government has passed the interest free loans policy it continues to allow student fees to increase. So while the government is giving with one hand, it continues to take with the other.

At the same time government funding of tertiary education has dropped considerably over the last couple of decades. Staff pay rates continue to be pathetic in comparison to university workers overseas. Resources, such as our library continue to lack the funding it desperately needs to serve students and staff. Since the late 1980s the government and tertiary institutions have tried to pass the costs of under-funding onto students. The government has tried to distance itself from this since the early 1990s by making the university councils set fees. In reality when funding has fallen it’s quite obvious. Institutions are going to try and make up the costs by increasing student fees.

In the first term of this Labour Government there was a fee freeze. Although there were some increases in government funding it failed to make up for the under funding of the fourth Labour Government in the 1980s and 1990s National Government. In 2003 the government allowed institutions to start raising fees, and up they’ve gone.

The student loan scheme that started in 1992 has now ballooned out to 8 billion dollars of student debt. Roughly 60% of graduates’ debt is from student fees. Labour was elected on a policy of “cutting costs to students to tertiary education” back in 1999. Allowing student fees to rise flies in the face of this policy.

This Thursday the Education Action Group (EAG) have organised a March to Parliament to demand an end to fee increases and an increase in government funding. The march will start in the Quad at Kelburn (where we had cultural and sports clubs days last week) at 12, with Chris Knox performing live. We’ll then be marching down to parliament and will probably get to parliament grounds at 12:30pm.

This is a chance for us as students to make a real difference. It’s time to show politicians that we won’t put up with increasing fees and an under funding of tertiary education. Students are a significant political force in society. Last year’s election was largely decided by the student and graduate vote. So remember: meet in the quad at 12 noon this Thursday (March 9th) or at Parliament at 12:30 to make your voice count!

Also this week we continue with our orientation line up. For what its worth I’d encourage students to come to Friday’s free gig in the union hall. The act I’m most looking forward to hear is the ‘Mysterious Tape Man’. Imagine a man dressed in a 1950s dinner suit, with duct tape wrapped around his head standing on a table with an electric guitar playing surf music. This act was an absolute classic when I saw him last year at Indigo before the Cortina concert. Well worth a look I reckon.

And finally…THE ROLLING STONES ARE COMING TO WELLINGTON!

The Rolling Stones are the greatest rock and roll band in human history, and on April 18th they are playing in Wellington. This will probably be one of the last chances we get to see these legends (though people have been saying this for about 30 years). Should be an absolute cracker….

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