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VUWSA president OKs fee increase

VUWSA president OKs fee increase

A week before the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA) holds a meeting to protest increases in tuition fees, the VUWSA president has proposed raising the association's own compulsory fee, Student Choice said today.

In the 24 July edition of Salient, VUWSA president Nick Kelly said in the future there may have to be a rise in the compulsory VUWSA levy. Kelly said the fee increase could come in the form of a set increase or a change to an inflation-adjusted levy.

VUWSA receives the bulk of its income from a compulsory levy which all students must pay before they can study. The current fee is $99 per fulltime student. VUWSA's latest accounts (2004) show the association had a surplus of $296,171, assets of $808,975, and equity of $665,300. In 2004 VUWSA had nett fee income of $1,279,603.

Student Choice spokesman Mike Heine said it was hypocritical for VUWSA to oppose increases in tuition fees while planning to raise its own fee. "VUWSA claims its needs more money to operate; this is exactly the same argument VUWSA has rejected when the university has proposed raising tuition fees. Why is it acceptable for VUWSA to raise its fee, but unacceptable for the university to do the same?" Heine said.

On 7 March this year Nick Kelly led a protest on parliament to "demand an end to fee increases" and said "it is socially irresponsible to allow fees to keep increasing" and that government had a responsibility to "stop passing on costs to students". Nick Kelly is obviously happy for VUWSA to pass costs on to students.

VUWSA will claim that any fee increase is justified because it will need to be approved by a student meeting, however attendance at these meetings is notoriously low and they are regularly held in open areas so passersby can be counted in the quorum, Heine said.

The only way VUWSA can legitimately claim to have student approval for their fee is to make membership voluntary. That way individual students will be able to decide whether or not they want to pay the VUWSA levy.

Currently compulsory membership gives student politicians a blank cheque and allows them to continually impose additional costs which students must pay if they want to study.

The majority of VUWSA's income is spent on administration. VUWSA does not fund the university health service, gymnasium, creche, bars or cafes. These facilities are funded by separate levies, paid by students and collected by Victoria University.

Student Choice upholds voluntary student association membership on the grounds of freedom of association.


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