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NZQA head must go over exam fee increase

NZQA head must go over exam fee increase

National says the chief executive of the New Zealand Qualifications Authority must go over her admission today that the Authority broke its own regulations and misled Parliament over the huge hike in school exam fees.

"Senior Government officials misleading Parliament cannot be tolerated," says National's Education spokesperson, Nick Smith.

"In response to many questions about who was responsible for the 81% increase in exam fees, NZQA chief executive Karen Van Rooyen responded "It's a decision made by the Minister in conjunction with the Ministry of Education." "There was a series of options." "There were no recommendations". Yet the official papers, in her name, show that NZQA recommended the huge fee increase."

Dr Smith says, in fact, the law states that the Authority sets the fees and seeks the Minister's consent.

"It is also extremely serious that NZQA broke its own regulations in increasing the fees. The regulations quite properly require that any increases be notified on 1 December in the preceding year so students know what they have to pay before they enrol and make subject choices.

"The chief executive is either acting dishonestly or incompetently, and should go. NZQA has had a huge increase in its budget and staff, and has spent excessively on consultants, yet it is still unable to get the basics right.

"We can't have this ongoing fiasco in an agency responsible for the qualifications of hundreds of thousands of our young people.

"The Education Minister cannot duck some responsibility for this mess. He knew the Authority was acting outside its own rules when he approved the fees hike after the lawful time had expired. He should fess up, admit the error and any increase in fees should be deferred until 2004," says Dr Smith.

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