Press Release – Fight The Fees
University of Auckland students are hosting a rally today called “Make Them Listen!” This protest is the second in a campaign called ‘Fight the Fees.’
The rally will occur just before the University of Auckland Council fee setting meeting.
University of Auckland students fees have gone up by 4% every year since 2010, the maximum allowed by law.
The students behind the campaign, Fight the Fees aim to communicate their opposition to fee increases. Last year, despite having students speak against the fee hike at the fee setting meeting, the University Council claimed they were unaware of student opposition to the fee rises.
Fight the Fees held a street party in order to raise awareness about tuition fee rises and promote debate around the commercialization of education last Wednesday 10th October with several hundred students in attendance.
Thousands of students have already signed the petition, which will be presented in todays University Council meeting calling for a 0% fee rise this year at the University of Auckland.
Only 25 students can fit in the meeting room at 4pm today. Despite multiple student requests, the Vice-Chancellor and the University have declined the request to move the location of the University Council meeting room to a larger space to fit more students. Instead, they have told students they can watch a lecture stream of the meeting in Old Government House lecture theatre.
“This is a tactical ploy to reduce representation. Two student reps on the University Council is just a form of tokenism and personifies the increasingly corporate nature of the university under which students, academics and the general public, the primary stakeholders in tertiary education, are increasingly ignored.” says James Roberts, a student involved in the Fight the Fees campaign.
Fight the Fees, say “claims to austerity become laughable when our Vice-Chancellor is getting paid $800,000, while 15% of students are living in absolute financial distress and aren’t able to afford basic accommodation, food and clothing requirements.
“A combination of student costs rising and the threshold for financial assistance rising has left me $15,000 in debt after 1 year of tertiary study. Quitting my degree and moving home to Whangarei is something I’ve seriously considered. I don’t want a lifetime of debt.” says Stacey Henderson, first year Bachelor of Arts student at the University of Auckland.
New Zealand currently has the seventh highest tertiary education fees in the developed world.
Any students wishing to join the Make them Listen! rally are encouraged to meet outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office on Princes St at 3pm today.
Press Release – Auckland University Students Association
Students have expressed their frustration at the decision being taken by University of Auckland Council’s to raise fees by the maximum 4%. For many students, this amounts to an increase of several hundred dollars for their 2013 fees. The fee increase means that student fees have increased by the maximum level for the past five years.
“What we’re seeing with these increases is the failure of central government to properly support our universities” said Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) President, Arena Williams. “While universities are struggling to keep their heads above water in a dynamic global environment, government funding is stalling. Instead, they are being told to squeeze more money out of students. If New Zealand wants to continue to be a world leader in education, government has to come to the party.”
The average increase in tuition subsidies from the government this year was 1.2%, while for some courses, such as Arts and Commerce, it was 0%. The effective increase in University costs was 3.7%. Meanwhile, the University of Auckland’s ranking on global measures, such as the Times Higher Education Supplement and QS Rankings, continues to fall, as does the long-term rankings of all other New Zealand universities.
“Increasing fees has a real effect on those trying to enter the tertiary education system,” said Nate Amato-Ali, President-elect of Auckland University Pacific Island Students’ Association (AUPISA). “This is particularly true when the government has restricted access to student support for many students, including postgraduates, solo parents and recent migrants. A system that allows these fee increases is shutting out those who have the potential to do well, but can’t afford to.”
AUSA has called on the University of Auckland to send a clear message to the Minister for Tertiary Education Steven Joyce that relentless year-on-year fee increases are unsustainable. “Universities can’t keep passing the buck to students. New Zealanders have always prided themselves on a world-class tertiary education system that gives everyone a fair go. If that’s what we want, we need to see more support from the government”, Williams said.