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Fees maxima threatens important courses

Fees maxima threatens important courses

The Government's fees maxima policy, which puts a ceiling on all tertiary fees, is likely to restrict the ability of tertiary institutions to offer essential courses with high running costs, according to UNITEC.

UNITEC CEO Dr John Webster said that fees for at least four of its programmes - in health, sport and the performing arts - would have to drop well below the real cost of running them.

"While we can understand what the Government is trying to achieve with the fees maxima, one box does not fit all. We run world-class programmes in performing arts and elite athlete development, giving our students the one-on-one training they need to get to the top of their field, yet the Government funding is inadequate - and we are now forced to drop our fees.

"Just as one of our performing arts graduates, Daniel Gillies, is about to co-star in the Spider-Man sequel, the Government is saying we have to cut fees for that programme by $3000. I am not confident that New Zealand will be able to produce world-class actors and athletes when the fees for funding these kinds of programmes are so inadequate. These are two areas where New Zealand should be building on its strengths, not cutting back."

The impact of the fees maxima is compounding problems for two of UNITEC's health degrees, because they are wrongly categorised by the Government.

"Medical imaging has a huge amount of overlap with radiation therapy, taught at another institution, yet the funding difference between institutions is more than $8000 per student."

Medical imaging at UNITEC is funded at $8,886 per full-time student and radiation therapy at Otago University at $16,930.

"There is a crucial shortage of medical imaging technologists in New Zealand - yet UNITEC is placed in the position where the long-term viability of this programme is in question. Does this mean students from other degrees have to subsidise medical imaging, - just so New Zealand can produce the health professionals it so desperately needs?"

Dr Webster said UNITEC's osteopathy degree was similarly underfunded, because it was not categorised along with like programmes such as those for the chiropractic profession.

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