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Debt Monster to Steal Christmas

Media Statement 12 December 2005 For Immediate Release

Debt Monster to Steal Christmas

University of Auckland students expecting a stress-free Christmas have had their hopes dashed by an expected late appearance of the dreaded Debt Monster today, when the University of Auckland Council debates whether to raise both Undergraduate and Post-Graduate Fees for 2006.

The Debt Monster will be making an appearance at 3.00pm to steal the presents under the Christmas Tree at the University of Auckland Clock Tower, before the Council meeting begins at 3.45pm. It is likely that the Monster’s presence at the Tree will no doubt result in tension between himself and Santa Claus, who will be there to place presents under the tree.

Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) President Greg Langton said that the appearance of both Santa Claus and the Debt Monster, giving and taking away simultaneously, signified the absurd approach to the Tertiary Sector by the Government. “On one hand we have the Government offering Students interest free loans, and on the other, an absolute refusal by Government to meet the real costs of providing quality education”, he said. “The end result is the University of Auckland Council being forced to increase fees, resulting in higher loans for students anyway”.

Mr Langton said the zero-interest policy, while a welcome relief to the 400,000 New Zealanders with a student loan, would be a dead duck if the Government didn’t follow up with other funding changes in the Sector. “While students may welcome zero interest on their loans, if the Government doesn’t make any real changes to the way that Tertiary institutions are funded, it is inevitable that institutions will raise fees wherever they can, which simply wasn’t the point, or the intended outcome of the policy”, he said.

Although acknowledging the Council’s unenviable position, AUSA Education Vice President Xavier Goldie expressed disappointment that the Council had left the fee setting process so late. “Students have already enrolled in many of the classes and papers that will have their fees increased on Monday”, he said “It’s poor form to be increasing these costs after the fact, without letting students have the opportunity to consider the fees before enrolling in the papers”.

AUSA calls on the Government and new Tertiary Education Minister Michael Cullen to make real progress on the issue of long-term tertiary funding, to ensure that Universities are able to meet rising costs of providing quality degrees without continually raising student fees.

ENDS

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