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Otago Still One Of The Most Affordable Uni's

8 November 2005

Otago Still One Of The Most Affordable For Students

The University of Otago continues to have some of the lowest domestic student tuition fees in the country, especially for Arts and Business courses, says University Chancellor Lindsay Brown in announcing today’s decision by University Council to raise some 2006 fees by five per cent.

He also noted that tuition fees for some undergraduate papers -- such as Physiotherapy -- would actually drop in 2006. Domestic fees for Dentistry would remain unchanged, while those for Medicine would decrease should the University be unable to obtain an exemption to allow for the current 2005 fee to remain unchanged next year.

Furthermore, in order to lessen any possible disincentive to students doing postgraduate study involving research, the Council was careful to minimise fee rises for certain categories – deliberately setting fees at less than the substantially larger increases allowed by the Government.

“Overall, I think this is good news for Otago students as we remain one of the most affordable universities in the nation at a time when costs are escalating beyond the rate of inflation and beyond what the Government currently budgets for the tertiary sector,” Mr Brown says.

Mr Brown commended the student representatives for their appreciation of the difficult funding environment and their constructive suggestions.

Despite rising costs, the University of Otago specifically did not seek an exemption from the Tertiary Education Commission to raise general domestic student tuition fees beyond the fee maxima set by the Government.

“Setting fees is always a very difficult balancing act, between what is fair and affordable for students and their parents, and what is required to run a research-intensive university of Otago’s calibre,” he continued. “Staff salaries, research materials, scientific equipment, library costs – they are all increasing and yet in real terms Government funding per student will decline yet again in 2006.”

This year’s Government budget set a 2.6 per cent increase for the 2006 tuition subsidy. However, inflation was now expected to be 3.4 per cent, Mr Brown explained.

It was therefore “no surprise” that all universities across the country are increasing their fees, and, in some cases, seeking approval for larger hikes.

Total funding for tuition per student will decline in real terms even with fee increases, he noted, resulting in more pressure on staff, facilities, and on the quality of teaching and research.

The new Government policy of abolishing interest payments on student loans was a “welcome move”, relieving some of the burden of student debt. However, Council noted that the policy would not address the inadequacy of the tuition subsidies provided to universities.

ENDS

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