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September 25, 2006 | by  | in News |
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Fees Rise 5% Government to Blame Say VC, VUSWA

University fee are set to rise by 5% for a second consecutive year, after the University Council almost unanimously passed the Vice-Chancellor’s fee proposal last week.

Two motions, one to increase all undergraduate fees by 5% and the other to increase honours and postgraduate fees by $500, passed with three votes against, two of which were from student representatives on council.

The increase is the highest possible under the government’s fee maxima policy. For a full time student studying for 120 points, Humanities and Social Science students fees will increase from $3,378 to $3,546. Commerce and Law students will see an increase from $3,972 to $4,170. Science students face the highest fees, with theirs increasing from $4,260 to $4,470. Design students fees increase from $4,224 to $4,434.

A further motion to apply for an exemption to fee maxima, allowing the University to raise Faculty of Humanities, Education, Architecture and Law by a further five percent was deferred for further debate. At the time of writing a date had yet to be decided.

Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh opened the debate, outlining his case for a fee rise.

He argued that no fee rise, in conjunction with rising costs the University is facing from increased staff salaries and infrastructure development, would mean that the quality of education provided to students could not be maintained.

Taking a pot-shot at the Tertiary Education Commission’s (TEC) recent decision not to allow a 10% fee increase for the 2006 summer trimester, Walsh stated that “financial irresponsibility should not be a prerequisite” for an exemption to the fee maxima rule.

VUWSA President Nick Kelly, while emphasising the difficulty students have in paying increased fees, used his opportunity to speak to criticize government under-funding of universities.

He said it was “absolutely fundamental that we are all calling for increased government funding.”

Kelly later moved a motion, which was unanimously passed, expressing the Council’s “deep concern” at the underfunding of universities.

Two other members of the VUWSA executive, Alexander Neilsen and Joel Cosgrove, were also invited to address the Council. Neilsen plead for the return of “affordable education”, while Cosgrove, dressed in the furry green debt monster suit, urged Council members to join VUWSA protests.

Approximately 15 students marched from the quad to the Hunter building where the Council meeting took place, and a vocal few heckled Council members as they spoke. However, contrary to past years, students were allowed to remain in the chamber throughout the meeting.

Kelly says part of the reason why turnout was so low at the protest was because executive members had to “prioritise the financial future of VUWSA” by organising the Special General Meeting where the levy increase took place. He adds that after four years of fee increases, this year “the arguments were a lot more clear about where the problem lay.”

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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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