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Minister cheeky on student fees

Friday, 24 September 2004

Minister cheeky on student fees says university staff union

The Government should increase overall funding to universities in order to ensure that student tuition fees are kept to a minimum, according to Dr Bill Rosenberg, National President of the Association of University Staff (AUS).

Dr Rosenberg was responding to a statement by the Associate Minister of Education, Steve Maharey, in which he urged the governing councils of universities to think carefully about how much they need to increase student tuition fees, so they are kept as low as possible, for next year.

Government funding of universities per student has declined by 21 percent in real (inflation adjusted) terms over the decade to 2002, and New Zealand's public investment in tertiary education is now lower than the average for other OECD countries as a proportion of GDP. It is significantly lower than in Australia and the United States.

"It is clear is that Government needs to boost funding rather than leaving tertiary institutions having to consider further increasing student tuition fees," said Dr Rosenberg. "Fees must be kept as low as possible, but in order for that to happen funding needs to be seriously addressed. The Government can well afford this with its mountainous budget surplus, and the spending would fit in well with its economic and social strategies."

"It is a cheek for the Minister on one hand to continue to under fund the universities, but on the other to tell them they should not increase tuition fees," said Dr Rosenberg. "The increase in public funding for universities for next year has been set at less than the level of inflation. Clearly that will be insufficient to meet increased costs faced in the sector, including salary claims for parity with comparable staff elsewhere, which all acknowledge are necessary."

Dr Rosenberg said that the Minister must intervene to increase funding if he is to ensure that universities can ensure the delivery of high-quality without increasing tuition fees.

ENDS

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