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Auckland Students Oppose Fee Increases

Auckland Students Oppose Fee Increases

The Auckland University Students Association (AUSA) today signalled their opposition to the University's intention to increase domestic tuition fees for 2007, with the launch of their "Fight the Fees" campaign.

The University of Auckland Council are due to consider a vote to increase fees for 2007, across both undergraduate and postgraduate courses, at their next meeting on Monday 16 October at 4pm. Students will be protesting the fee increases at that meeting. AUSA President Dan Bidois said that AUSA would be campaigning solidly over the next two weeks to highlight the problems with raising tuition fees as the solution to an increase in University costs.

"AUSA recognises that the University's costs are increasing at a rate higher than the Government is funding them. The University has indicated that their costs will rise by margins greater than 5% in 2007, while the Government has only committed to a 2.5% increase in funding for that same period" said Mr Bidois. "As a result, the University is facing a substantial deficit, manifesting in budget cuts and staff redundancies across several faculties", he added.

"However, students at the University of Auckland already pay the highest tuition fees in the country. Students are burdened with meeting those fees, along with the higher costs associated with living in the Auckland region. All of this results in greater levels of student hardship and debt", Mr Bidois continued. "We do not accept that it is the students at the University who should be saddled with greater financial problems because of the Government's failure to adequately fund the University Sector. We call on the Government to step up to its responsibility to fund Universities in a meaningful way, allowing them to create and contribute knowledge to our community without unnecessarily burdening our students and our graduates with financial hardship."

AUSA Education Vice President Xavier Goldie urged the University Council and the Vice Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon to work more closely with other Tertiary sector organisations such as AUSA, the New Zealand Union of Students Associations (NZUSA) and the Association of University Staff (AUS) to pressure the Government to increase their commitment to quality University teaching and excellent research.

"With the new landscape of the Tertiary sector unfolding as a result of funding reforms, there are significant opportunities to make important gains a more equitably and sustainably resourced University sector", Mr Goldie said. "The University of Auckland needs to step up to the plate and engage in good faith with NZUSA and AUS to promote the concerns of the sector to the Government. Students, staff, academics and Management are all in this together; none of us want to see the decline in productivity and quality that underfunding invariably brings", he added.

"Raising student fees are not an innovative, sustainable or long term strategy for dealing with revenue-cost disparities. They are a drop in the bucket of what is truly needed for our excellent University to continue its leadership in the Tertiary sector, and they only serve to increase student hardship", he continued. "It's time for a bold, fresh new approach to the problems that the University faces, and that can only be achieved by collaboration between all those stakeholders - staff, students and management - within the sector."

ENDS

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