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March 18, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Uni Can’t Get It Up

Fee rise swears this never happens

The Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) rejected the University’s application to raise fees for Education, Humanities and Social Science papers by eight per cent—double the legal limit—in December last year.

As usual, all students will feel the same fee burn with a four per cent increase in fees across all faculties and courses.

The TEC can grant permission to exceed the four per cent limit in “exceptional circumstances”, but spokeswoman Kate Richards said Victoria’s application was declined because it failed to meet 11 of the 18 criteria and subcriteria needed for eligibility. Criteria include financial need and support for key priority groups under the Government’s 2010-2015 Tertiary Education Strategies, such as Māori and Pasifika students.

Former Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh said the additional revenue from the fee hike would allow the University to support the high proportion of Māori and Pasifika students in the Humanities and Social Sciences. “The government is focusing on increasing Pasifika and Māori achievement, and we have been challenged to achieve outcome parity by 2018”, he said. 

Walsh said that if the application was approved, the additional revenue would be put towards a “programme of learning support” to benefit all students in the faculties.

However, the TEC concluded that Victoria’s application did not provide financial data on how the additional funds would be allocated to support the success of Pasifika and Māori achievement.

The University is producing “positive financial results” currently, resulting in not meeting the criterion based on the contribution of fee rises to financial viability.

The decision to apply for an exemption divided University alumni. As Salient reported last year, former Pro-Chancellor Helen Sutch opposed the increases to Humanities and Social Sciences because of the high concentration of students from poor backgrounds in those areas.

Last week Salient reported that Helen Sutch was ousted from her role as Pro-Chancellor late last year. Individuals involved with University processes for a long time believe Sutch lost her position as a result of her decision to vote against the eight per cent rise. If approved, the per point fee in Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences would have increased from $52.55 per point to $56.75 per point. 

Chancellor Ian McKinnon said TEC’s decision meant Victoria would continue to operate at a disadvantage.

“All universities in New Zealand are measured by the same criteria, and are required to meet performance commitments that are the same for all. 

“Victoria is operating in this environment with significantly less resources than others, which is an unreasonable expectation.”

At the time, 2012 VUWSA President Bridie Hood said she was delighted by the TEC’s rejection.

“The response we’ve got from students is really positive – an increase in costs doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in quality.

“We don’t think there was enough evidence in Victoria’s application to be granted an increase, so we’re really excited by TEC’s decision.”

Massey’s application to raise fees by eight per cent was also rejected because it was received after the closing date for submissions—instead they have also raised fees across the board by four per cent.

Now that the application has been rejected University Chief Financial Officer Wayne Morgan told Salient that no extra allocation of funding towards Maori and Pasifika achievement has been made.

Morgan could not rule out any future fee increases, and says decisions about fees are made by the University Council each year.

“It is too early to say what these might be for 2014.”

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