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October 7, 2019 | by  | in News |
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VUW Halls Hiking Fees By 50–80% Next Year

 

Victoria University halls of residence are set to increase fees dramatically going into 2020, with some going up by as much as $4000 a year.

Current annual fees for catered halls in 2019 sit around $14,000. However, fees for catered halls are slated to be approximately $17,000 for 2020. On these numbers, this is an increase from approximately $390 per week, up to $470 per week. 

Initially, these increased fees were not published on the VUW webpage, with the new costs only stated at the end of online applications for accommodation. This was updated after inquiries from Salient. 

The new rates range from $12, 512–$18,978 for catered accommodation (most fees sit between $6,300 and $18,900), and $7,327–$13,135 for self-catered.  

Rainsforth Dix, Director of Student and Campus Living, stated that over a three-year period, the university has absorbed costs to prevent an increase in fees. 

“The 2020 increase is the result of costs continuing to rise in many aspects of running our halls,” Dix said. 

This includes “large” increases in insurance and maintenance costs, rents and rates, and annual costs for core utilities and catering services. Pay rates for residential advisors have also increased.

Dix explained, “This equates to a base rate increase of 7 percent on 2019, with additional increases for halls that are closer to campus and provide a particular advantage to students living there.”

The base rate is what is required to run the halls to break even. The increase from $12,500 to $18,900 for catered halls in 2020 is roughly a 51% increase on $12,500 in 2019. For self-catered halls, it’s around an 80% increase.

VUW says “100% of any surplus [profit] is recycled and reinvested within the accommodation to ensure that we keep it up to scratch.”

The fee increase of $3000–$4000 for residents will not be without its impact. 

One prospective resident brought the issue to ^Salient’s attention, saying that, “I thought $14,000 was expensive enough… Now that it’s $17,000, it completely changes my planning.” 

“The up in prices makes me really question whether I go to Victoria.” 

This prospective resident initially emailed Victoria University to ask whether they had made a mistake in their online publication; the student had applied before the new fees had been published on the webpage.  

It was not until the prospective resident had reached the end of the online application process that they were notified of the new fees.

Despite this, and after being sent screenshots of the mismatched pricing on the page, Dix said to ^Salient, “this year we made the decision to show the new rates on the website as part of the application process due to the fact that we have introduced different prices for different halls.”

She added that the $100 application fee had been dropped for 2020 applicants. 

Current residents are expressing concern at the increasing fees. 

“Raising the prices even further cements the inherently elitist nature of university as a whole,” said a current Weir resident. 

“University needs to be as inclusive as possible for everyone. This can’t just come through things like scholarships and student support,” they continued.

With StudyLink’s inflation-pegged student loan for Living Losts reaching a weekly maximum of $235.84 in 2019, the shortfall can be anywhere between $39.00 per week (an outlier in the stats) to $170.16. 

The median fee for most halls holds at $392 per week, which means that the median shortfall sits at $156.16 per week after student loan Living Costs. Those who receive a Student Allowance and an Accommodation Benefit may be more financially advantageous, but 2019 residents who receive this benefit have found that even then, there is a difference to cover.     

“[Hall fees and student funding] are so centered around the idea that parents are able to pay for their child’s hall costs, which obviously isn’t always the case,” said another hall resident. “Student loans don’t come close to covering hall costs, and even with summer savings and scholarships, it’s difficult to cover.”

There is no indication that the Hardship Fund, nor scholarships, will necessarily increase in value following the fee increase. VUW responded, “All students are charged a Student Assistance Levy that contributes to the Hardship Fund. The size of the fund is determined each year by the enrolment numbers for that year..

^Salient was unable to reach VUWSA for comment in time for print.

VUW does not expect a reduction in interest from prospective hall residents.

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