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Otago Fees Still Amongst Lowest In The Country

Otago Fees Still Amongst Lowest In The Country

Tuition fees for most domestic programmes at the University of Otago will go up by around four per cent in 2005, with the majority of undergraduate students seeing an increase of about $160 for the year.

Despite the fee increase, Otago’s tuition rates are still amongst the most affordable in the country, said Vice-Chancellor Professor David Skegg in announcing the University Council decision today, with tuition for undergraduate degree programmes rising by between 2.5 and 5 per cent.

“It’s always a difficult decision raising fees, knowing the impact this will have on students and their families,” he says. “But students also expect and deserve the quality university education Otago provides, and that cannot be maintained without adequate funding. Even with a rise in tuition fees, Otago students can be assured that our fees are still among the lowest in New Zealand.”

Faced with rising costs, Otago this year implemented cost-saving initiatives across the University, as well as a hiring freeze in some departments. However, the University is still confronted next year with minimum additional costs of $19.4 million above the 2004 forecast– higher than can be covered by government funding alone, Professor Skegg explained.

In 2005, academic and general staff salary costs alone are expected to be $12.2 million above the 2004 forecast, he noted.

Even with the fee increases, Otago’s budgeted surplus for 2005 will still barely meet the Government’s Tertiary Advisory Monitoring Unit (TAMU) financial performance guideline, he said.

The University is also struggling to make up for a funding shortfall as a result of the government fee freeze during the years 2000-2003. At the time, Otago had the lowest fees of any university, which placed it at a “significant disadvantage” compared to other NZ universities in terms of funding, Professor Skegg said.

“Despite a greater emphasis on government funding tied to research performance, and heightened efforts to source funds from external research and private sources, the fact remains that the greatest single source of income for universities remains the same: EFTS-based funding,” Professor Skegg said. “This government funding has been declining in real terms, so universities have to rely on student fees to help meet the rising costs of tertiary education.”

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