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PM dines as fees increase

PM dines as fees increase - wasn't it the same under National?

OPSA President today slammed the Labour government for not stepping up to its responsibilities of funding education. She levelled the charges that "Since Alliance have left government Labour's impending fees rises really aren't that different from National's."

In a Budget media release from Steve Maharey titled "Ensuring Access to Tertiary Education" (15 May, 2003) it explains; this year and in future, the maximum fee (inclusive of fees and course costs) that can be charged in particular course areas for the following year will be set out at budget time. The schedule will be adjusted annually by the estimated rate of inflation and will also set out indicative rates for the two subsequent years." Mr Maharey claims, "The effect is that fees will be linked to the CPI and will not be permitted to rise in real terms".

However Labour's 'Fees Maxima' system simply does not guarantee this at all. Firstly, the fee increases many students face next year are much higher than the CPI. While OPSA is pleased to see the government starting to take responsibility for fees setting, the 'maxima' is set so high it allows drastic fee increases for many students. "If a $1000 increase on a $3500 course is Maharey's idea of a CPI increase the country is in trouble - besides Labour shouldn't simply be matching inflation they need to be decreasing fees." said Ms Watt.

Secondly, the system has no meaningful "long-term fee predictability for students" as Mr Maharey suggests it does, without financial commitment any government can make whatever changes they like to fees. "Any future government could easily hijack the 'maxima' and cause rampant fee increases similar to the National government of the nineties, and Labour shouldn't simply be matching inflation they need to decrease fees so all New Zealanders have a equal chance of tertiary education" said Ms Watt

Ms Watt concludes, "While we welcome the government meeting its responsibility of putting a limit of fees, no matter how the problem is dressed-up nothing will be solved until they adequately funds tertiary education."

Mr Maharey refused to talk to Otago Polytechnic student representatives prior to the Budget, so OP students are going straight to the top and will join university students venting their frustration and disappointment at the Prime Minister as she dines in Dunedin tonight.

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