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September 18, 2006 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Oops They’re Doing It Again, 5-10% Fee Rise Proposed

A recommendation by Vice- Chancellor Pat Walsh to increase fees by a minimum of 5%, and to apply to have some fees raised by 10%, will today be considered by University Council. In a proposal made public early last week, Walsh argues for an increase for all undergraduate course fees of 5% in 2007, the maximum allowed under the government’s fee maxima system. Fees for honours and postgraduate students will increase by $500.

Such a fee increased would generate an extra $3.5 million of revenue for the University.

If successful, it will be the second year running that student fees have been increased by the full 5% allowed under fee maxima. Walsh has also indicated that it may be a trend in future years. In the proposal, he writes that the University “intends that undergraduate fees increase annually up to the maximum extent possible until Victoria’s fees match those charged by comparable New Zealand universities”.

Furthermore, the University also plans to make an application to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) that will increase Humanities, Education, Architecture and Law fees by an overall amount of 10%.

Despite only recently being denied such an increase for the remainder of the 2006 academic year on the grounds that Victoria did not meet the required level of financial distress, Walsh says in the briefing paper that without a 10% percent increase the University will be “disadvantaged in revenue terms for many years”.

Such an application would be based upon Victoria’s inability to “achieve fee parity” with other universities. With fee levels that are “significantly lower” than other universities offering similar courses, Victoria is “at a severe disadvantage in trying to maintain high quality courses with fewer resources than are available to other universities”.

However, in the response to last year’s application for an exemption to the fee maxima limit the TEC rejected a similar argument, noting that course costs in Humanities and Education could be covered by cross-subsidisation between faculties.

Walsh says he does not believe that the TEC “engaged properly on the issues at all” in their ruling. He adds that Victoria’s ability to cross-subsidise was based “almost entirely on the very large increase in students” in the Faculty of Commerce and Administration, an increase which is not projected to continue.

VUWSA President Nick Kelly calls the proposal “despicable” and adds that he believes the University was attempting to “make a point” about government funding of the tertiary sector.

Kelly adds that the increase is unnecessary after the University increased international student fees earlier in the year, and was one of the only universities to not suffer a drop in enrollments in 2006.

Although Walsh disagreed that the application to the TEC was a “stunt”, he says the University is attempting to “address some of those issues” related to government funding “within the constraints of the fee maxima regime”. The proposed fee increase will be in conjunction with a 4% increase in the 2007 Student Services Levy. This amounts to a $5 increase for full-time students and $3 for part-time students.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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