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Canterbury University Protest First Of Many

News that Canterbury University is closing its doors for half a day next Friday in protest at the Government's secret fee-freeze deal highlights the huge level of frustration Vice Chancellors are feeling, National's Education spokesperson and Ilam MP Gerry Brownlee said today.

"By forcing universities to freeze fees this year in exchange for a 2.3% funding increase the Government has effectively shifted debt from students to tertiary institutions.

"The Government got away with it in last year's budget but institutions have now been told of a new fee freeze plan in a secret meeting with Mr Maharey. Universities will reportedly be required to freeze fees in exchange for a 2.6% funding increase for next year.

"The 2.6% increase is being offered in a year in which we have 3.1% inflation and a low New Zealand dollar. The low dollar means staff salaries aren't internationally competitive and there is pressure on universities to contain costs.

"The Government has done nothing to reduce costs for students despite election promises. Any opportunity they now have to do so will be at the cost of course quality.

"Today's announcement by Canterbury University will be the first of many from our tertiary institutions who are spitting the dummy and saying they won't put up with the unsustainable financial position next year.

"Our tertiary institutions are facing a funding crisis. Universities have to manage increasing budget deficits and cutbacks are being made to education services.

"The Labour Party came into Government promising to increase tertiary funding. Universities have now seen through the shallow promises and are struggling to deal with the reality under this Government," Gerry Brownlee said.


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