Dramatic rises in compulsory student services fees may become a thing of the past due to new government legislation.
Compulsory student services fees are charged by all universities. These fees are used to pay for services like health providers, accommodation services and study support.
Tertiary Education Minister, Stephen Joyce, says many tertiary education providers have recently made significant increases to compulsory levies.
“The increases charged in some cases have been dramatic and I am not convinced that they have all been fair to students.”
The Education Amendment Bill (No.4) will make the process of allocating service fees more transparent and allow student input. It will give the Minister power to direct how fees should be spent.
This direction includes categorising which services fees can be used for; creating decision-making processes involving students; and providing written statements for students which detail the spending on these services.
If the Minister is not satisfied that an individual provider is complying with the directions he will have the power to place a maximum limit on the amount they may charge for student services.
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has welcomed the proposed changes.
“It is essential that students have oversight over these levies. This is the best way to ensure that services are responsive to students and that levies are kept under control,” NZUSA co-President Max Hardy says.
In 2010, Victoria students were hit with a massive increase in the Student Services Levy when it jumped from $150 to $510. This occurred despite student involvement through VUWSA.
NZUSA has also pointed out the Government’s actions are ironic given its support for Voluntary Student Membership.
“The unfortunate irony is that the Government is in the process of severely undermining any independent student voice at institutions,” says David Do, NZUSA Co-President.