Last week Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington announced it was backing down from plans to charge students in campus housing a ‘holding fee’ of $150 per week throughout Level 3 lockdown.

The university announced it will re-assess its charges on May 11 when the Government will decide whether to extend Alert Level 3 or move New Zealand to Alert Level 2.

The move comes after widespread media coverage and following considerable resistance from students and student representatives, TEU members and politicians including Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick.

Last week, TEU released an op-ed by TEU Victoria University of Wellington co-branch presidents Dougal McNeill and Katy Miller who wrote,

“Students are acutely aware of the financial pressures created by the current crisis, but they are right in feeling aggrieved by the increased costs they must incur for a service they can’t access, confused by contradictory information they have received since the lockdown was announced, and angered by the lack of consultation and timely communication prior to the announcement”.

The New Zealand Union of Students Association (NZUSA) and students across Aotearoa are pushing for other universities to follow suit and stop charging students in hostel accommodation. The calls come as halls linked to Canterbury, Auckland, Otago and AUT universities are only offering students partial rebates with the universities citing financial hardship and as students continue to call for further support from Government.

Last week, the Minister of Education announced the Technology Access Fund which will provide $20 million to help tertiary students access digital devices and the internet to continue learning during Covid-19 disruptions. The announcement was made after a recent survey by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) and New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) showed at least 11,150 learners do not have the right devices to engage in distance learning and at least 11,350 learners do not have access to broadband internet at home.