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Universities cornered by fees deceit

Simon Power National Tertiary Education Spokesman

21 August 2003

Universities cornered by fees deceit

National's Tertiary Education spokesman Simon Power says the Government's backdown on the fee maxima system has pushed New Zealand universities into a corner.

"This raises some serious questions about the Tertiary Education Minister's increasingly ad hoc approach to tertiary education," says Mr Power. "The little flexibility that universities had when the system was announced in the Budget in May has now gone. Universities will be trapped into small increases on fee levels that have been kept artificially low by the Government's fees freeze for the last three years. "Disruptions, like the pay dispute at Otago University, are likely to become more and more common as universities struggle to balance insufficient government funding with artificially low capped fees.

"Universities must now deal with pay demands, rising course costs and capital demands that will far outstrip the meagre increase in funding they will receive. "Labour is simply reaping what it sowed with its fee maxima programme - there was no way it was going to please everyone with such a politically motivated approach.

"A policy based on the realities of tertiary education and focussed on quality, rather than pork-barrel politics to entice student votes, would have offered both students and providers far more certainty," says Mr Power.

Ends

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