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September 13, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Lucky Forum Doesn’t Need Quorum

Only 30 students attended the Student Forum last Monday, despite the discussion of possible changes to student fees and the opportunity for students to ask senior management questions about the university on the agenda.

Held in the Memorial Theatre, the forum featured presentations by VUWSA President Max Hardy, Chancellor Ian McKinnon and Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh, followed by a question and answer session.

Hardy outlined the direct implications of Victoria’s funding challenges, such as capped enrolment and changes to summer school courses.

Hardy also said that based on previous years’ decisions, it is “very likely that the university will propose that fees will go up again this year”. Any changes to fees must be approved by the University Council.

Walsh described the changes to tertiary education funding over the last several decades as being key to financial issues facing Victoria, saying that fee freezes under Labour had put Victoria at a financial disadvantage relative to other universities.

In 2009, the university received 45 per cent of its funding from the government, compared with 95 per cent 30 years ago, when tertiary institutions were allocated funding based on class attendance. Under the current system, universities are funded for a set number of students, and concern was voiced at a compromise in quality if over-enrolment was to become an issue.

McKinnon stressed the university’s commitment to creating a quality research environment by attracting top-quality staff and students. Under the Education Act, universities are defined as teaching and research bodies.

He said that resourcing of the facilities and equipment provided to staff and students was an ongoing challenge for the university.

“Nothing would please me more than if the government picked up a greater share of the cost of running this university.”

Upgrades to the Boyd Wilson Field and the Campus Hub project at the Kelburn Campus were seen as fostering a “socially and culturally stimulating experience” for students. The university will invest $55 million in Campus Hub, with the VUWSA Trust contributing a further $12 million over the next five years.

The Boyd Wilson Field upgrade, which incorporates a new running track, lighting, seating and an artificial surface for year-round play, will cost $2.5 million, and is funded in part by the Wellington Students’ Association Trust and the Old Boys’ University Rugby Club.

The university’s surplus of $10.9 million in 2009 was above the budgeted $8.6 million, but was in line with government regulations that require universities to make a 3 per cent surplus to act as a “financial buffer”. Total revenue was $281.2 million, slightly above the budgeted $276.7 million. Expenditure was also higher—$270.1 compared to a budgeted $268.1 million.

A number of students used the opportunity to ask questions on a variety of topics.

When asked if a blanket approach to fee changes across all courses was likely, the Vice Chancellor said that “we have tended to take a uniform approach in the past”, but was quick to add “it’s Council’s decision as to what we will do next year”.

When the issue of limited computer access during peak times was also raised, Walsh cited Facebook as a key cause of the problem.

“One of the measures we could adopt, but I think it would be quite controversial, is to bar access to Facebook.

“That would reduce student usage by 70 per cent. That’s the biggest single use of our computer system.”

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About the Author ()

Lewis has been playing videogames since his family's PC Direct "workstation" in early 1996. He spends his spare time reading political blogs, working and welcoming complaints and suggestions.

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  1. Jane says:

    great opinion,try to do best we can

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