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Dark Day For Otago Student Fees

13 November 2007

Dark Day For Otago Student Fees

In a disappointing move, fees for the majority of Otago University students were today raised by the full 5% allowable under government regulations, a move which was opposed by the Otago University Students’ Association (OUSA) representatives on the University Council.

“There is a severe problem with public under-funding of Universities in New Zealand,” said OUSA President Renee Heal, “and this plays right into the Government’s hands by milking students so that the Government can continue to turn a blind eye to this massive under-funding for another year.”

Heal also said in the meeting that she was “disgusted” that the fee increase was set in a context of increasing staff costs. “It is simply not fair to play staff and students off against one another,” she said today. “We must address the real issue here which is a lack of government funding across the board to maintain adequate levels for a tertiary institution such as Otago University.”

Heal also questioned the timing of the fee setting. “Otago fees are being set after all students have left campus – it is unacceptable to say that this is an open and public process given that it occurs when students are no longer here to voice their opposition.” In lieu of students being physically present, OUSA presented a petition signed by approximately 1,000 Otago students calling for a fee rise at the rate of inflation. Unfortunately this was a call that fell on deaf ears.

OUSA also opposed an application to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) for an exemption to the ‘fee maxima’ for Physiotherapy students so that their fees may be raised by 10%. “This is an inappropriate way to voice protest to the Government,” said Heal, “and one that could have a disastrous impact on students.”

OUSA and the University Council did vote unanimously to work together to make effective representations to Government on the serious under-funding of Universities in New Zealand. “This is an issue that has been ignored for too long,” said Heal. “It is time for the Labour Government to make good on their promise of increasing the affordability of tertiary education in New Zealand. Students can not sustain fee increases of this nature any longer.”


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