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Fee maxima OK, but funding has to increase

Association of University Staff

Media Release

Attn Education Reporter 27 June 2008

Fee maxima OK, but university funding has to increase

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has welcomed a proposal from the government that the maximum amount by which tertiary student fees can be increased for 2009 will be 2.6 percent, but warns that the government must act now to increase funding to the university sector.

AUS academic vice-president, Dr Grant Duncan, said that, while it is highly desirable the cost of tertiary education be kept as low as possible for students, a consequence is that additional government funding is urgently required to maintain the high quality and good reputation of the New Zealand university system.

Dr Duncan said that the cost of running universities had increased at a rate at least 1.6 times higher than the general rate of inflation for the economy as a whole, but that university income had fallen in real terms by over $20 million per year over the last six years.

“Although it has been acknowledged by university management, government and unions that salaries in the university sector are low, efforts to alleviate this through additional funding for salaries had to some extent been undermined by a failure of government to allow for the true costs of running universities,” Dr Duncan said. “According to research by the University of Auckland, New Zealand university income was, in 2006, $2,146 per student or $223 million in total lower than it would have been if income had been indexed to rises in university costs since 1991.”

Dr Duncan said that the effects of this underfunding will be compounded by the fact that annual salary increases are due, with salary bargaining for the university sector to occur during July.


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