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September 11, 2006 | by  | in News |
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Declined! TEC: Ten percent? Hell no!

The tertiary Education Commission (TEC) has declined Victoria’s application for a 10% fee rise in the summer trimester, saying the University failed to prove that it is suffering under‘exceptional’ circumstances.

Under the current fee maxima system, universities are limited to increasing student fees by a maximum of 5%, but can apply to the Commission for an exemption if they can prove ‘exceptional’ circumstances.

The TEC defines ‘exceptional’ circumstances as where an institution is facing a dire financial situation, where it cannot cover the course costs through the income generated for the course or by cross-subsidising, or when not raising fees would render the institution unable to meet the government’s tertiary education strategy.

While fees were increased by 5% across the board for the 2006 academic year, the University was attempting to raise fees a further 5% for the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Education. It argued that the increase was necessary because of there had been a decrease in both real government funding and the revenue obtained from international student fees.

The Commission accepted that the University was unable to meet the costs of courses by the income generated via those courses in the majority of schools in the two faculties. However, the application was declined on the basis that it did not meet the other two principles.

The application was undermined by Victoria being one of two New Zealand universities to have increases in the number of equivalent full-time students (EFTS) this year. With the number of students higher than initially estimated, the TEC found that the University was able to cover the costs of humanities courses by cross-subsidising. It also noted that much of the money for crosssubsidisation comes from the Faculty of Commerce and Administration.

The TEC also found that not having an increase would not affect Victoria’s ability to deliver the level of education required by the government.

Chancellor Tim Beaglehole was disappointed with the decision, saying the TEC had failed to address the imbalances in the level of fees between different universities. “If Victoria University was able to charge students the same fees as those at the top of the range, we would be immediately $20 million per year better off and therefore better able to improve the quality of our infrastructure,” he says.

However, VUWSA President Nick Kelly was not surprised by the decision, saying that the case the University made was dubious”.

NZUSA Co-President Joey Randall says the decision will provide a setback for other institutions wanting to gain an exemption from fee maxima. “I think the TEC has been quite clear that if [an institution] is not going to meet a majority of the criteria, that it is a waste of time”.

He says it was pleasing to see that exceptional means exceptional”.

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Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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