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June 3, 2013 | by  | in News |
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Students Get It in the SAC

Recently released data shows how many students went to university last year, and exactly how much the Government spent on their tuition costs.

The information was published by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) in late May, and covers enrolment and funding figures under the Student Achievement Component (SAC). SAC funding is available to universities and other tertiary institutions, based on how many students enrol at each.

SAC funding goes towards the direct costs of teaching and learning, and other costs which are related to how many students enrol. The Government decides how much SAC funding is available each year through the Budget. In the 2013 Budget, the SAC received $2.04 billion, up 0.9 per cent from last year. SAC rises are capped, which means universities effectively have to cap student numbers.

Student numbers are calculated using a measure called Equivalent Full-Time Students (EFTS). This is the approximate estimate of students if everyone were taking a full-time course; for example, two half-time students (0.5 of a full-time course each) make one EFTS. The figures show there were 118,715 EFTS in 2012, 619 less than in 2011—a 0.5-per-cent drop.

SAC funding has two components. One is the number of students in each course. The other is the type of course these students are enrolled in. Not all students are the same in the eyes of the TEC, and some EFTS are allocated more money than others. This depends on which courses are taken, with courses like Engineering and Medicine getting more money relative to courses like Art History.

In a bizarre twist, universities get 50.01 per cent of the funding in equal monthly payments from January to July, and 49.99 per cent in equal monthly payments from July to December. This means that for the first half of the year, Victoria received just $2133 more each month than in the second half of the year.

A spokesperson for the Greens said the party did not think the current SAC model was “particularly good”, in part as it promoted “too much managerialism”. To improve the status quo, the Greens would give universities more control over their own funding. Labour did not respond to questions by the time Salient went to print.

Data can be viewed on the TEC website, tec.govt.nz.

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