The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) supports the scrutiny being called for by its members into the default nature of year-on-year course fee hikes and any increases that are found to be unfair or unreasonable.
"With institutions automatically raising fees by the 4% maximum allowed for under law over the last four years, we’re now beginning to witness fee levels that are increasingly going to put the opportunities presented by tertiary education out of the reach of the future generation of New Zealanders now entering our high schools," says Pete Hodkinson, NZUSA President.
"Yesterday the Council of the University of Auckland voted on just such an increase which the student’s association at the university, AUSA, strongly challenged. In the near future we have the even worse scenario of Victoria University of Wellington seeking to jeopardise its substantive student base with an 8% increase in 2013 - which, as pointed out in the media, is double the amount currently allowed by law.
"We believe the criteria in place to prevent unjustified fee hikes above 4% are about right. They set the minimum hurdle that is appropriate. We also understand that any application for ‘exceptional circumstances’ must satisfy not just one but all of the criteria, and we look forward to seeing these criteria fully and transparently tested at the next Board meeting of the Tertiary Education Commission.
"There is of course a bigger issue going on here, which is the way that the licence given to relentlessly raise fees ignores the other financial pressures that are piling up on students. Not only is being adequately fed and housed affected by rising livings costs, but at the end of their studies the size of negative debt burden faced by those lucky enough to graduate is also spiralling out of control year by year.
"There has to be a reassessment of the flawed schemes that are driving this unsustainable debt bubble and that reassessment has to happen soon".
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