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May 14, 2007 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Vic applies for fee rise, forgets to consult students

Victoria’s application for a 10 percent fee rise for the second semester has been delivered to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) – despite VUWSA and students being unable to make submissions.

The application is for an exemption to the Annual Fee Movement Limit (AFML) rule to allow fees to increase over the 5% annual limit up to a 10% increase, for undergraduate fees in the faculties of Humanities, Education, Law and Architecture.

VUWSA President Geoff Hayward told Salient he was unaware the University had applied to the TEC, despite being a member of the University Council, until the TEC contacted him asking if VUWSA had seen the application.

The University sent the application, along with its apologies, soon after, although by this time it was too late for submissions to be made.

VUWSA Campaigns Officer Tai Neilson said in a press release last week, “students need to know where their money is going and why the university needs to raise fees by more than the annual fee maximum. If students have to pay more we should expect better services.”

VUWSA described the Council’s fee-raising tactics as “underhanded” earlier this year, after documents regarding the TEC proposal were “accidentally” included in a ‘confidential’ Council booklet, meaning the public and media were unable to view them before they went to Council.

Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh says VUWSA’s allegations are “unfounded” as the two student representatives on Council – Hayward and former VUWSA exec member Cordelia Black – had received the ‘confidential’ booklet at the same time as other Council members, although they were unable to share this information with their constituents.

The TEC application will be assessed against three principles, including that the cost of providing the course is not met by the course’s income, the costs cannot be cross-subsidised from the institution’s total financial surplus, and not increasing fees would “compromise progress towards the achievement of the Tertiary Education Strategy and the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities, or other critical elements of the tertiary reforms.”

The University’s application to raise fees for the Humanities and Education faculties by 10 percent in 2006 was denied, “on the grounds that its financial circumstances were not sufficiently out of control”, according to a memorandum from Walsh to the Council.

Massey Palmerston North had its AFML exemption granted last year, with chronic library underfunding a central aspect of its application. However, Massey’s student newspaper, CHAFF, has revealed that University management made the decision to cut the Library’s operational budget by approximately 20 percent this year, including a 30 percent cut to the Library book budget.

Although Victoria attempted to obtain the reasons for Massey’s application success under the Official Information Act, Vic Senior Communications Adviser Antony Paltridge told Salient “the University does not wish to comment on another institution’s AFML application.”


About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

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