09/10/06
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Staff Warn of Student ‘Buy-In’

Students may be able to buy their way into university courses under the proposed tertiary education funding reforms, two university staff unions have warned, in submissions to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC).

The Association of University Staff (AUS) and the Association of Staff in Tertiary Education (ASTE) claim in the submissions that the three year funding plans required of New Zealand tertiary institutions mean that institutions might ‘sell’ places in courses to students who are prepared to pay full fees (about three times as much as the subsidised fees that students currently pay).

The three-year plans will effectively cap Government funding for each threeyear period, meaning that institutions will only be able to accept extra students into number-restricted courses if either the student or institution can gain non- Government funding to cover the extra cost.

AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly says that unless the Government creates regulations to control the enrolment cap, the danger of students buying their way into University is real.

The submission AUS has made calls for the Government to prevent this possibility. “We’re arguing that the cap should be real, and no students should be allowed in beyond the cap, but that the cap mechanism should be flexible enough to ensure that it meets the needs of students… We want to keep student access,” Kelly says. She claims that if there is no regulation, the reforms will privilege those students who have the financial means to pay full, unsubsidized fees. “The rich can go in and the poor can’t, that’s the obvious thing.”

A spokesperson for Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen forwarded ASPA’s questions to the TEC, but no response had been received by the time of writing.

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