Government policy changes encourage higher fees
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations is extremely disappointed that Government have abdicated responsibility for bringing already high tuition fees under control by loosening up regulations in favour of institutions, and are warning of the dangers rising fees pose.
“NZUSA is opposed to the Fee Maxima rate increasing in 2009. While we saw benefit in a system that had potential to keep fees under control, in reality Fee Maxima has become a ‘fee minima’,” said Liz Hawes, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA). “For example, most courses at Auckland University are already at the maximum fee limit, and now they can continue to move even higher. It makes a mockery of the maxima principle”.
The government has announced the top Fee Maxima rate will increase by 2.6% in 2009. Fees below the maxima will still be able to rise by the Annual Fee Movement Limit of 5%, This comes as a huge blow to students as fee setting meetings are underway nationwide, with many institutions proposing significant fee hikes.
“Research shows a worrying shift away from education and career choices based on skill, interest and ability, or the needs of the country, to what is ‘affordable’ as people consider the long term implications of high fees contributing to their student debt. The negative consequences of such financial decisions are already apparent in the severe workforce shortages appearing in many professions”, said Hawes.
“We’re very concerned that Labour is loosening up regulations in favour of institutions, to the detriment of individuals. Last year they introduced policy that saw courses above the fee maxima no longer have to decrease back towards the maxima, when previously they had to. There was no consultation on this. Students are justifiably concerned at the negative impact these moves will have,” said Hawes.
NZUSA acknowledges the historic under funding of tertiary institutions, however increasing costs to individual students is neither a fair, equitable nor appropriate solution to the problem. High fees and low support for living costs are the two main drivers of student debt.