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University explains proposed int'l fee rises

4 June 2004

Waikato University explains proposed international fee rises

Waikato University strongly appreciates and supports its international
students and has valid reasons for the proposed international fee
increases in 2005. The university has to cover costs, says the
university's international director Lynette Muter. The increases are due
to be discussed at a university council meeting on Wednesday 9 June.

Ms Muter also stresses that only a small number of students have been
affected by high fee increases relating to a government policy change,
and that a hardship fund is in place to support students who qualify for
assistance. Students applying for hardship would need to have been
enrolled at the university prior to 2003. Students enrolled in
degree/diploma programmes in 2003 were given a "fee increase holiday"
for A semester 2004 as a gesture of goodwill.

Ms Muter explains that from 2002 onwards there have been annual
international tuition fee increases to compensate for the higher costs
of academic and pastoral support, the government's introduction of a
compulsory levy for export education providers, compliance costs and
operational and capital costs incurred as a result of enrolling
international students at the university. "The Education Act 1989
requires that international fees should cover the costs of specific
provision for international students plus any marginal costs applicable
where international students occupy places on mainstream courses."

There has also been a commercial need to bring the university's fees in
line with its New Zealand competitors, given that lower fees can be
equated with low quality. The effect on students has been exacerbated by
a strong New Zealand dollar over the last two years and the introduction
of compulsory travel and medical insurance by government in January

A major factor behind some of the very steep rises quoted for a small
number of students has been the introduction of charging on an EFTS
(equivalent full-time student) basis rather than on a flat per course
tuition fee basis. "Unfortunately the students are comparing individual
degree paper costs prior to the change, with a similarly numbered or
level paper after the change to credit points, but this is not a fair
comparison," says Ms Muter. "Some students are caught in the changeover
because they are already part way through their qualification under the
old regulations, and for this reason the Vice-Chancellor set up a
hardship fund in 2003."

To date six students have qualified for assistance under the fund's
criteria out of 16 applications considered by the hardship committee.

"Students in 2005 will still be able to apply to the hardship fund if
they qualify for assistance as set out in the letter available from the
International Centre Reception," says Ms Muter.

In respect of Bachelors Degrees and Graduate Diplomas, excluding Waikato
Management School programmes, next week's council meeting will consider
an international tuition fee increase of between 3.2% and 6.7%. The fee
increase introduced this year, in the B semester, for new students in
the Waikato Management School (WMS) is proposed to be extended to all
WMS students for 2005. The Language Institute is recommending no change
for 2005.

"We have a strong commitment to providing quality education and care to
our international students and this is achieved by improving services to
them," says Ms Muter.


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