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Documents prove deceit over tertiary fees

Simon Power National Tertiary Education Spokesman

29 October 2003

Documents prove deceit over tertiary fees

The National Party says documents released under the Official Information Act show the Government ignored high-level advice over its controversial fee maxima policy.

National's Tertiary Education spokesman, Simon Power, says Treasury documents prove the Government was warned not to impose an Annual Fee Movement Limit, on top of the fee maxima - but it pushed ahead.

"It also ignored advice in setting a limit of 5% per course per year for 2004-2006, instead of 10% as Treasury suggested," says Mr Power.

"Labour always knew its politically-driven fee maxima policy was going to anger people, but to ignore official advice was inviting trouble," he says.

"These documents show that Treasury didn't support the imposition of an Annual Fee Movement Limit, citing it would substantially weaken the funding/fees policy.

"Further, when combined with the exemptions policy, (AFML)... is problematic in terms of all three main aims of the funding system: student affordability, provider flexibility and fairness, and sustainability.

"The papers also pointed out that an AFML would encourage the sector to raise fees as much as they can next year.. to preserve their future position where they may not otherwise have done so. The lower the AFML, the higher the risk.

"This is as clear as it gets - an AFML was going to put pressure on tertiary institutions already struggling to cope with pay demands from staff and capital expenditure costs.

"But Labour forged ahead anyway, hoping its band-aid tactics would appease students and hold off protests.

"The trouble is, these same students are now set to suffer as the quality of their education plummets," says Mr Power.


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