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September 17, 2012 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Fees Will Rise

Victoria University’s costs are increasing faster than revenue, and management will be recommending to the Council that tuition fees be raised, said Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh at the second Student Forum last Monday night.

Those trying to attend were required to pass four security guards and have their bags searched to be allowed into the Hunter Building’s Council Chamber, where the meeting was held.

Also present were Chancellor Ian McKinnon, and Chair of the Finance Committee, Roger Taylor. Walsh presented a presentation on tuition fees, and all three answered questions from the Forum.

Due to financial sensitivity, Walsh would not put a number on the proposed increase until the Council meeting on September 17, but VUWSA Vice-President (Academic) Josh Wright speculated it would be four per cent, the maximum allowed by the Ministry of Tertiary Education.

The forum expressed confusion as to why the University had asked them to discuss an increase in tuition fees if they could not be told what the recommendation would be.

McKinnon said an increase was needed to maintain Victoria’s quality of education, but many forum members scoffed at these remarks, expressing frustration with the already small number of tutorials, some classes going without.

The three council members were criticised for not being in touch with students’ financial concerns, having attended University when it was fully subsidised.

But Taylor said he would be “very surprised” if fee increases deterred students from attending.

One student “accepted the financial situation” but questioned if the University was doing enough to resist government changes, and accused it of creating a culture against students who did.

“As soon as students try to participate in democratic processes, we are punished, we are escorted up the elevator by security guards, our bags are looked in, and they want to know how much water I’ve got in my water bottle,” she said.

Walsh urged the forum that while they were often not successful, they did resist the government consistently.

One student mused the University could better spend its money by giving the $120,000 budgeted for the University- created and unelected Student Forum to representative groups and clubs.

However McKinnon said it was important to meet with students “even if the process is questioned.”

“Ultimately, we listen to what you say, but that doesn’t mean the expectations of what you say will be met,” he said.

After McKinnon, Walsh, and Taylor left the room, a representative from the Postgraduate Students’ Association queried if Bridie was ill-suited as Chair of the forum considering the conflict of interest she had as President of VUWSA. However, it was concluded all members had a similar conflict in their role as representatives of various groups and faculties.

ITS then asked for feedback on the continuation of student email addresses.

Wright consulted the forum on the University’s proposed introduction of a C- grade. The grade will be given to percentage scores between 50 and 55, with the requirements for other letter grades increasing by five per cent.

An overall C- grade for a course would count as a “restricted pass”; students would receive points for the course, but it would not count as a prerequisite towards other courses.

The University receives additional funding for each student it passes, and hopes a restricted pass will encourage lecturers to fail fewer students.

Tuition fees will be discussed at a Council meeting will be held at 2pm in the Hunter Building Council Chamber on Monday September 17. Students are invited to attend. 


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