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August 13, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

A Random Education Institute in Palmy Increases Their Student Services Fee by 50%

The students of Institute of the Pacific United (IPU) in Palmerston North are challenging the Institute’s Facility Fee proposal that will raise the student levy 57% for domestic students and 35% for international students.
The Institute was founded in 1990. It mainly educates international students. Only 10.7% of the students are domestic, and 52% of students are Japanese. 420 students attend the institute in total. There is one Bachelor’s Degree you can graduate in: Bachelor of Contemporary International Studies.
Currently, their compulsory Student Services Fee for domestic students is $700. The Institute plans to raise this fee to $1100.

International students currently pay $1150 for their student services fee, which will be raised to $1550 in 2019. In addition, Japanese students must pay an extra $1,378.02 for “overseas outreach services”.
According to a survey conducted by the IPU Student Council, the majority of current international students are against this change. Student Council members are vocally opposed to the increase. Student Council President Joseph Love said that the over 50 percent increase “just seems too extreme of a change”.

According to IPU, part of the extra money international students pay goes towards support services, visa support, and assistance translating important documents.
However, according to the survey, 34% of international students stated that student support staff had never communicated with them. 19.2% said that they’ve been contacted once a semester. 73.1% of students surveyed have stated that they did not receive assistance for translating services, and furthermore, they were responsible for finding their own translator.
“If the Student Service Levy is going up, I would like to see improvement either within the service or the facility,” said international student Taiga Yamaguchi.
One student, who prefers to stay unnamed, said “If IPU increases the fee, I will definitely quit here”.
IPU states that the fees were consulted with previous Student Council executives and students. Current students are complaining that they were not consulted about the increase.

“Students are able to speak to us at any time over concerns they have. We are very proud of the services we offer our students,” said a spokesperson from IPU.

A person on the Student Council last year recounted the so-called consultation. They said that the meeting “was less of a consultation process and more a ‘this is what is going to happen'”. They said every student council member present at the meeting spoke against the fee increase.
“We also stated clearly that the majority of students would greatly disapprove of the increase in costs, which from what I have heard is what has happened.”

Prior to 2017, IPU had no Student Council.
IPU said that “students were given every opportunity to respond via email submission and student meetings. The consultation process and fee report are available on our website and disclosed to the Ministry as per the Direction”.
Multiple IPU students told Salient that they would like a better understanding of where their money goes, feeling blindsided by recent uncertainties about where the student services fee is spent.
Love pointed out the the university isn’t following the the Ministerial Direction on Compulsory Student Fees, which exists to hold universities accountable in the use of compulsory fees for student services, specifically domestic students.
The services must fit within one of the categories defined by the direction: advocacy and legal advice; careers information, advice, and guidance; counselling services; employment information; financial support and advice; health services; media; childcare services; clubs and societies; sports; and recreational and cultural activities.
IPU outlined two fees which do not fall into the direction’s categories: IT Services, and a free bus service. The students are expected to pay the new fee in April 2019, the start of IPU’s next academic year.
IPU students have not given up the fight. “We will try to contest it as much as possible until then,” said Love.
IPU only responded to a few of Salient’s requests for comment.


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