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September 27, 2010 | by  | in News |
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Poor Students get Poorer

Fees rise four percent for 2011

Fees across all courses at Victoria University will increase by four per cent next year, following a decision made by the University Council at a special meeting last Monday.

At the meeting, the University Council approved amendments to the Fees Statute to allow a four per cent fee rise, as recommended by the Finance Committee. The fee rise is the maximum allowed by the government under the annual maximum fee movement, announced in the Budget earlier this year. New Zealand School of Music fees will also increase by four per cent.

The Student Services Levy for 2011 will be held at the 2010 rate, excluding GST. The decision to keep the levy fixed at the 2010 rate follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between VUWSA and the university, and extensive consultation undertaken by the Student Services and Amenities Levy Advisory Committee (SSALAC).

The meeting was attended by a number of students, including several members of the VUWSA exec. Many in the public gallery wielded placards about the growing levels of student debt in New Zealand, which currently stands at over $11 billion.

VUWSA President Max Hardy and University Council Student Representative Conrad Reyners opposed the fee increase, as did Council member and former VUWSA President Fleur Fitzsimons.

Hardy told Council that a fee increase is “a vote for more student debt, for negative impacts on the life choices of borrowers, for negative impacts on our society and for longer repayment times for all students, particularly for women, Maori and Pasifika students”.

Hardy acknowledged that government policy has made it difficult to maintain lower tuition fees, and the government has a part to play in addressing the issue.

“We do not think that the issue of increasing tuition fees and sky rocketing student debt is primarily an issue between students and the university management and governance—we do not wish to create that divide…We understand that only the government can address our concerns completely,” he said.

“We do not accept that students should shoulder the burden of under-funding in the sector and be forced to pay ever-increasing tuition fees.”

Vice Chancellor Pat Walsh acknowledged that the setting of fees is “a difficult issue the Council faces annually”.

Walsh said the Council faces a clash between not wanting to impose an additional financial burden on students, and the need to preserve and enhance the quality of the university’s programmes and services.

“It’s a major issue and one that this Council takes very seriously,” he said.

“We know that 2011 will be a very challenging financial year due to the decline in government funding…If the university is going to respond successfully to the challenges we face, it is recommended that Council approve the fee increase.”

The government is still to confirm the final regulation regarding the annual maximum fee movement and the Fee and Course Cost Maxima. In the event that the government allows a maximum fee increase greater than four per cent, the fees recommendation will be taken back to Council for further consideration.

Security guards were present at the meeting, held in the Council Chamber in the Hunter Building. Last year’s fee setting meeting was disrupted by students throwing fruit at Council members, and the meeting had to be moved from the Council Chamber. Hardy understands that this fee setting meeting was the first in “eight or nine years” that has not been disrupted by student protest.

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Editor for 2010, politics nerd, panda fan and three-time award-winning student journalist.

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