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May 17, 2010 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Capping Week: Otago gets wrong end of the stick

Otago still has Capping Week… Vic doesn’t

Enrolments at Otago are increasing beyond sustainable levels, forcing the University Council to take measures to limit them.

At Otago, enrolments for semester two are to be capped, with further caps for next year in the works.

The caps were part of a recommendation from the Senate that was passed by the University Council last week.

The caps are a result of the university’s enrolment growth, which is running at 4.4 per cent more equivalent full-time students than there were at the same point last year.

The caps will apply only to open entry undergraduate and sub-degree programsmes.

It is not clear how many prospective students will be affected by this, but loose estimates are around 100–200.

Vice Chancellor Professor Skegg says that up until now, the university has had a liberal policy, with the residential colleges providing an effective cap. Over the past years, there has been a steady increase in enrolments, which greatly accelerated over the last two years in particular.

Skegg says that the increase puts a “clear pressure on resources”.

The ratio between academic staff and students is deteriorating, and there are constraints on accommodation and university facilities.

The proposed cap involves a priority system for allotting available places. First priority goes to those who are already enrolled.

Second priority is to those who had registered prior to 28 April.

Third priority goes to those who “can establish they were actively advised … in a way that gave clear expectation of admission”.

Fourth priority is subject to availability, with admission on the basis of academic merit first and foremost.

Affirmative action in respect of Maori and Pasifika students, and those who have “exceptional circumstances”, will also be considered.

It will be possible to review and appeal the decisions “in accordance with normal university procedures”.

Both student representatives sitting on the University Council, OUSA President Harriet Geoghegan and exec-appointed Victoria Nicholson, voted for capping enrolments.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to, but if we don’t we are at risk of having more students that we can afford to in 2010, which stretches resources,” Geoghegan says.

“I think the way the university has gone about it is fair and they’re simultaneously trying to get more money from the government.

“If we don’t do this current students will be disadvantaged and fees will rise.”


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