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Irresponsible NZVCC passing the buck to students

Irresponsible NZVCC passing the buck to students

Student leaders are expressing concern and disappointment at calls from the New Zealand Vice Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) for free reign on tuition fees and are warning against a return to the harsh reality of the last time Vice Chancellors got their way on fees.

“We are very pleased to hear the government reaffirm a pre-election commitment to retain the fee maxima system, and we welcome the Minister’s rejection of the NZVCC’s calls to remove current fee controls at tertiary institutions”, said Paul Falloon, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

“The current fee maxima policy provides certainty for both students and institutions. While we do believe fees are already too high, the current system at least gives some predictability about the costs involved in study. On the contrary, giving the institutions open slather on fee setting would inevitably result in the exclusion of many talented New Zealanders who simply could not afford to attend tertiary education”, said Falloon.

The NZVCC is out of step with government, students, tertiary unions and the public on this issue. NZUSA’s Student Income and Expenditure Survey 2007 showed that 76% of current students believed tuition fees were already too high, and a public phone poll conducted by independent research company Versus in September showed 44% of New Zealanders feel fees are already too high or far too high.

“In the 1990s institutions could basically charge what they liked and look what happened – fees skyrocketed by around 12% a year on average and student loan borrowings for fees escalated,” said Falloon. “Tertiary students today are already paying an average of $5,874 a year for tuition fees with most increasing by the maximum 5% each year.”

Ministry of Education analysis shows tertiary institutions receive 77% of the tertiary budget, in line with other OECD countries.

“At a time when NZ needs to be focussing on getting through a tough period and preparing its workforce and economy for the challenges of the future, it is a strange and ill-conceived notion to suggest education should be made even more inaccessible than it currently is,” concluded Falloon.


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