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Student fees rise faster than inflation

The rising cost of tertiary education led students at the University of Auckland to an unusual protest against growing financial pressure on them this week.  University of Auckland students undertook extreme challenges their students’ association set them, such as mass lube wrestling, eating pigs’ eyes and lambs’ brains, setting themselves on fire and public nudity to prove they were desperate enough for much needed cash.

Last week Statistics New Zealand reported that the cost of tertiary education rose 3.6 percent for the year to March. Inflation (CPI) for all goods and services rising only 1.6 percent over the same period.

TEU national president Dr Sandra Grey said students and staff are caught in the middle of two policies – a government that is cutting its own spending on tertiary education at the same time as capping the price rises that institutions can place on their student fees.

“As the amount of money in the sector decreases it puts real pressure on the quality of education we are trying to provide. Institutions are trying to maintain high quality education by increasing student fees as much as they can justify.  So student fees are rising to cover not only inflation but also to cover as much of the government cuts as possible. What we are seeing is a gradual shift from publicly funded education to privately funded education.”

Dr Grey says the situation is not helped by some institutions generating much larger surpluses than the Tertiary Education Commission expects of them. Last week the Southern Institute of Technology reported it ended last year with a surplus more than $2 million over the amount budgeted, and the University of Otago recorded an operating surplus of more than $26 millionlast year, its second highest surplus.

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