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University of Canterbury approves smaller fee rise

University of Canterbury approves smaller fee rise

Matthew Thomas

In a packed meeting, the University Council of the University of Canterbury has just approved fee rises to generate an additional $8.8 million income next year.

The fees motion, which was a reduction of an earlier proposal to raise an additional $13 million from fees, appeared to be agreed to by almost all councillors in the oral vote, with only the two Students Association representatives -- president Darel Hall, and executive member Kyle Millar -- voting against it.

In a long presentation, during which an electronic ticker on the stage showed New Zealand student debt climbing close to $3.63 billion, University vice-chancellor Professor Daryl LeGrew stressed that the financial situation of the University was perilous. `Without financial reform, the University may be in a high-risk situation', he said.

Professor LeGrew said that at current funding and expenditure levels, there would be a shortfall of $19 million, and he placed the blame for the shortfall at the feet of the Government: `the Government is short-changing this university, as it has been short-changing other universities'.

LeGrew proposed that $8.8 million of the shortfall be met by increased fees, with the remaining $7.2 million coming from cost savings.

Several councillors expressed concern at the steepness of even the modified proposal, but most said they saw it as necessary for the continuing viability of the University.

As part of the decision, University of Canterbury fees will now be uncapped and differentiated. Five bands will be introduced: ranging from arts students in Band 1, paying $3410 (up 6 percent), to engineering and some science students in Band 5, paying $4210 (up 30 percent).

This is less extreme than an earlier proposal put forward by Professor LeGrew, which student representatives said would have led to an average fee rise of 45 percent. The original proposal led to an occupation of the university registry by hundreds of students, after a rally against fee increases yesterday afternoon.

The students are now meeting to decide whether to continue the occupation.


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Disclaimer: Matthew Thomas is a student at the University of Canterbury. He supports, but is not actively taking part in, the Registry occupation.


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