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Universities Posturing Over Fee Maxima

Universities Posturing Over Fee Maxima

The Managing Director of Auckland’s Information Technology Institute (ITI) says universities are posturing over the revised Fee Maxima policy with their reported threats of staff cutbacks, slashed budgets and increased class sizes.

“The original policy was flawed and the Government has listened to the submissions and tried to make the best of a poor situation,” says Chris Mitchell, commenting on Tertiary Education Minister Steve Maharey’s announcement of the final fee/course cost maxima policy this week.

“The 5% increase with scope for a further 5% increase will be more than anyone expects university fees to increase by in the next 12 months. The universities have failed to acknowledge that the Government has now allowed course fees above the current maxima to continue to be charged at universities, polytechnics as well as private training establishments. This recognises that ‘one size does not fit all’ in the setting of student fees.”

Mr Mitchell says under the original proposal ITI’s nine month Graduate Diploma in IT was at risk of being disestablished as the fees of $9,500 were above the maximum of $4,500 set in the policy.

“This was despite the fact that our students could often earn up to $8,000 working on a project within an IT company as part of their study on our nine month programme. We also have a high percentage of students graduating into high paying IT jobs - some are earning up to $70,000 as a starting salary and see the $9,500 as a sensible investment,” says Mr Mitchell.

“The fact that the Government has granted exemptions in 2004 for courses where the current fee is above the maxima is a very positive move. They’ve allowed students to make the decision rather than legislate against it

“Additionally from 2005 the $6,500 maximum student loan limit will be removed which will be even more positive for students.”

ITI students – most of whom have non-IT backgrounds but are graduates with work experience in other sectors – have 18 weeks of intensive classroom learning then then spend about 18 weeks working on a real, revenue generating IT project for a top calibre company.

Mr Mitchell says ITI is a perfect example of the Government’s Growth & Innovation Framework in action.

“The Government has said it wants a “more connected tertiary education system” and that’s exactly what ITI is providing. We are forging strong links with business so that we can be sure to deliver exactly what they need in terms of skills and business savvy employees.”

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