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September 23, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Editorial – Victoria University

With only four weeks left until it’s all over for the year, choosing and paying for your courses for next year (unless this is your final year, in which case: you’re on the home stretch!) is probably one of the last things on your mind. Along with ice cream, rain on Christmas day, and bad tan lines, being on hold to StudyLink is just another essential part of any Kiwi summer. But although signing yourself up for another year of this ol’ grind may seem like a distant reality to you right now, one thing’s for certain: thanks to a decision made last Monday, being a student will cost you four per cent more next year. Does that shock you? Anger you? Or are you completely indifferent—do you even know what your fees cost at the moment?

In 2010, the UK government drastically increased the cap on university fees—overnight, British students’ tuition fees jumped from £3,290 to £9000 per year. The response was immediate and irate. Students turned out in tens of thousands to oppose the decision, culminating in an attack on Prince Charles and Camilla’s royal motorcade. In New Zealand, it’s hard to imagine anyone you know summoning the energy to post a status about fee rises, let alone marching in the streets about them. And that’s understandable—in the UK their fees rose by 174 per cent in one fell swoop—here Universities are only allowed to make a four-per-cent increase every year. In the context of your ever-growing student loan balance that you prefer not to think about, that’s pretty insignificant, right?

The problem—because there’s always a problem—is that there’s no end to this system. Thanks to the way in which universities are funded, New Zealand’s universities are locked into an eternal rat race where the only option is to keep raising fees by the maximum every year. (Want to learn more? Check out pages 6-7, and 22-25)

But it can’t stay like this forever. We can’t continue to pay more and more for a degree that’s worth less and less because everyone has one. We can’t have entire generations believing that University is the only option when it comes to getting ahead. The current system is not sustainable, and eventually something’s gotta give. Within our lifetime it is likely that this ancient institution will undergo some radical changes. The Government may focus more funding on vocational initiatives, like apprenticeships and polytechnics, rather than pure academic pursuits. University may exist more online than on campus. You may be able to complete your final year from the comfort of your own home—whether that’s in the same city, or in a completely different country to your University.

In that sense, despite the rising fees, falling quality, and the sense you get sometimes of “What the fuck am I even doing here?”—consider yourself lucky. It ain’t going to be like this forever, and the way things are going, it’s only going to get worse. So in the meantime, let’s make the most of our time here—we owe it to ourselves, given how much we’re paying for it. Get involved, work hard, have fun… and when you eventually make it over the final hurdle, toss that mortarboard like you’ve never tossed before. You’ve earned it.

Finally, we’re delighted to announce that following a lengthy appointment process, the Publications Committee has appointed a new editorial team to take the reins of Salient 2014. Congratulations to next year’s editors, Cam Price and Duncan McLachlan—we’re sure you’ll do a fantastic job, and we’re excited to see where you take [ITALICS: Salient].


Molly & Stella

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About the Author ()

Molly McCarthy and Stella Blake-Kelly are Salient Co-Editors for 2013, AKA Salient Babes.

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