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September 18, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Rant with Grant

The annual Rant with Grant saw Vice-Chancellor Grant Guilford venture to the Hub on September 13 to present to students on the fee-setting process.

Guilford presented a detailed background of fee-setting, including a history of government contributions to student teaching costs, which have decreased in successive governments since the 1990s.

21% of VUW funding comes from domestic student fees, 8% from international student fees, and 11% from other sources, such as student accommodation and the student levy. The remaining 60% comes from government teaching grants, the Performance Based Research Fund, commercial revenue, and “a variety of different sources” such as philanthropy.

Guilford stressed that VUW did not seek to make profit beyond the 3% surplus that they were legally required to make.

A small but vocal crowd questioned Guilford on a range of issues regarding fees.

When asked whether VUW would continue to increase student fees by the maximum amount every year, Guilford responded “we don’t like doing it. There’s a point at which we can’t keep going.”

The Government capped fee increases at 2% in 2017. According to Guilford, VUW was “usually facing 3.5–4% cost rises per year.”

“The government has not increased their contributions at the rate at which they go up, and they are capping the fee increase beneath the rate at which costs go up, means we’re left finding other ways to fill the financial gap.”

He stressed the need for political change to move past the current system, reflecting that Labour’s “three years free” model, which would provide three years of funding to all students in tertiary education, was “a good idea.”

“It’s hard enough now; it’s just going to get harder unless we have some political change […]. The funding model we currently have is resulting in some mounting difficulties for our students and institutions.”

However, when asked what work VUW and other universities had done to lobby the government for increased funding, Guilford said that although Vice-Chancellors do “get out there and bleat,” they had “pretty weak political power” in comparison to students.

“Elections have been won or lost on the student vote.”

He believes that universities are not able to apply political pressure as effectively as other sectors.

“In the hospital sector, it’s because of shroud-waving — you’re a hell of a lot more likely to end up on TV if you’ve got people that are dying or filling up A and E, bleeding, and all the rest.”

“So we get nice, warm responses from government, but nothing happens.”

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