University raises tuition fees ahead of inflation yet again
University of Auckland raises tuition fees ahead of inflation nine years in a row
Students today have expressed their frustration at the decision from the University of Auckland Council to raise tuition fees by 4%, the maximum allowed under current legislation. For many students this is an increase of several hundred dollars per annum[P1] for their 2014 fees. The average fee increase for domestic students has been consistently above inflation for the last nine years.
“Persistent underfunding of tertiary education has meant the burden is transferred to staff and students as increased fees and redundancies,” says Auckland University Student’s Association (AUSA) President, Daniel Haines. “This government has a targeted policy of reducing the amount of money invested into tertiary education. They have consistently funded education below the operating costs of the University.
“For a number of years, increases in student fees have compensated for the Government’s failure to increase funding annually at a rate proportional to inflation, let alone university costs. Recently, this has forced the most financially vulnerable participants in the tertiary system, the students, to make up the difference. As tuition fees are one of the only discretionary means Council has to increase funding, an operating shortfall makes the Councillors feel like they have no choice but to increase the cost of tuition fees. The Government has increased its funding to the University of Auckland by only 1.1% for 2014, resulting in a 7.3% shortfall for covering current costs. Meanwhile the University of Auckland slipped another 12 places in the QS rankings to 94, bringing the overall decrease since 2006 to 48 places.
“Increases in tuition fees generally have a greater impact on women, Māori and Pasifika students,” says Hannah Williams, Auckland University Pacific Island Students’ Association (AUPISA) President. “This is because they generally have longer repayment times. Moreover, Māori and Pasifika graduates will on average earn less than Pākehā graduates.”
AUSA calls on the University of Auckland to stand beside students and staff to send a message to the Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce that continuous aggressive fee increases are not sustainable. “Education is a public good and this Government needs to invest good amounts of funding to ensure that access to University is determined by ability to learn, not ability to pay. Students have been paying more for less,” says Haines.