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Victoria picks course with most Māori for biggest fee increases

Māori and Pacific Island students are being used by Victoria University of Wellington to justify its bid to increase fees, reports the Dominion Post.

However Ivy Harper, Tumuaki of Te Mana Ākonga (National Māori Tertiary Students’ Association) has denounced the bid saying Māori and Pasifika students should not be used by any tertiary institution to justify its bid to increase fees.

The university has applied to raise fees for undergraduate education, social sciences and humanities by twice the maximum rate of 4 percent allowed by the Tertiary Education Commission. It says the 8 percent fee rise would allow Māori and Pacific Island students to achieve at higher levels. The commission can grant such an increase if an organisation can show it would help Māori and Pasifika students.

Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh told the Dominion Post that the courses which had applied for higher fees had the highest proportion of Māori and Pasifika students.

“The government is focusing on increasing Pasifika and Māori achievement, and we have been challenged to achieve outcome parity by 2018.”

But he said universities were under financial pressure after the last Budget, when there was no increase in general funding for students.

TEU national president Sandra Grey told the Dominion Post increasing fees could shut Māori, Pasifika and disadvantaged students out of tertiary education.

And Ivy Harper says the idea that Victoria University can use Māori and Pasifika students to gain more money to benefit all students in the faculties is ludicrous.

“When did the achievement of all students become the responsibility of Māori and Pasifika students, and what is Victoria University doing with the Equity Funding it already receives for priority allocation to Māori, Pasifika and students with disabilities?”

“The comments by the Vice-Chancellor are incredible. His suggestion that the increase in the social sciences and humanities fee will better support Māori and Pasifika students overlooks the fact that the high concentrations of students that take these courses are from poor backgrounds, many of them Māori and Pasifika,” said Ivy Harper.

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