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May 27, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Surplus Sure Plus?

As the cost of going to university continues to rise, a massive surplus in the tertiary-education sector has been recorded.

Publicly owned tertiary institutions collectively recorded a surplus of $157.9 million in 2012, latest figures from the Tertiary Education
Commission show. This is an increase of 43 per cent since 2008.

Meanwhile, both course fees and the Student Services Levy (Victoria’s is currently at $676 per student) continue to rise each year. The Student Services Levy can only rise by four per cent each year, a maximum rate that Victoria consistently hits. It is not yet known how much Victoria’s 2014 Levy will be.

Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce says the Government invested $2.2 billion in publicly owned tertiary institutions in the year ending 31 December 2012, despite tough financial times. This excludes the Student Loan and Allowance Schemes, which come under Social Development spending.

VUWSA President Rory McCourt believes that universities could do more with their surplus, including more tutorials, higher staff-to-student ratios, and working with the regional council to provide cheaper student fares. Victoria’s surplus is currently $16 million.

“The massive surplus indicates to me that institutions are either stocking up for a rainy day under a Government that has starved universities of funding, or the policy settings are wrong and universities like Vic aren’t entirely upfront when they ask for the highest possible (and more) fee increases year on year,” McCourt said.

Last week’s Budget also introduced a crackdown on overseas borrowers and mature students. Overseas borrowers will face fixed repayment obligations, stricter repayment thresholds and sanctions for serious defaulters, including border arrest for the worst offenders. $30 million of Government support will be cut from the Student Allowance Scheme, with eligibility tightened for older students.

New Zealand’s tertiary-education surplus reflects the National Government’s efforts to make the tertiary sector more business-oriented, most recently through a review of the Performance-Based Research Fund.

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