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Minister Breaks Promise With Exam Fees Hike

Schools and families will be angry that fees for sitting school exams are being increased by the Government to bail out the New Zealand Qualifications Authority from a 4.2 million dollar deficit, says National's Education spokesperson Nick Smith.

"Schools have been notified that the administration fee is to increase for NCEA from $20 to $35, and for Sixth Form Certificate and for Bursary from $30 to $45. Parents must also pay on top of this a subject fee of $12 per subject for level one NCEA, $70 for five subjects in Sixth Form Certificate (up from $55) and $28 per subject for Bursary.

"Schools and parents have been duped. The Minister had said there would be no exam fee increase with the implementation of NCEA. Now that the new qualification is beyond the point of no return, he has sneakily slipped in a huge fee increase.

"The communications strategy, released under the OIA, acknowledges that schools and parents were likely to react adversely to the increase because the Minister said fees 'wouldn't increase with the introduction of the NCEA'. It also discussed that no specific public announcement be made. Papers also show that the NZQA did not want to increase exam fees and that the decision to do so was made by Education Minister Trevor Mallard.

"Parents are being asked to bail out the NZQA for its extravagance. This is the organisation that gave out $2000 per staff member "stress bonuses" last year because the organisation shifted offices a few hundred metres.

"Families are being asked to pay more for less. The NCEA will not give students a basic subject mark but instead a matrix of Credit, Merit and Excellence across any subject area.

"Students will be cynical of being charged $185 to get a maximum $200 Bursary. It is a joke. If it was good enough for the Government to increase the fee because of increased costs, the Government should also have increased the value of the $200 A Bursary and $100 B Bursary to help students keep up with increased costs," says Dr Smith.


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