Victoria votes for 5% fee increase – again, and again…

Pat Walsh. As reported by Michael Oliver of Salient and today’s Dominion Post, Wellington’s Victoria University has announced plans to raise undergraduate fees by five percent and almost double its student services levies from $275.60 for domestic students to $510.

Now, don’t get me wrong: VUWSA’s storm-the-halls-and-egg-the-bourgeoisie tactics are a particularly obnoxious way of tilting at windmills, and Salient editor Jackson Wood claims that at least half of the 25 students involved were from the Communist Workers’ Party. But at the same time I wouldn’t be surprised if their constituents really were to rankle at the latest increase.

As we’ve discussed elsewhere, the increase in student service levies is a national trend at the moment, with Canterbury, Massey and Waikato all announcing significant rises of their own. To give the university credit, Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh did meet with students in advance and explain the rationale, and it’s to be hoped that the money will be ring-fenced as with Massey and Canterbury.

But students would be right to object to Victoria’s exploitation of the fee maxima scheme, which requires institutions to seek government approval before raising fees anything beyond 5 percent a year. The university believes its fees were lower than other universities’ when the scheme was introduced and has been trying to catch up ever since – in fact, its council in 2006 passed a resolution to increase fees by the maximum allowable amount every year until they were brought in line with other universities’. I was curious about this and asked the professor if this was still the game plan, receiving the following curt reply.

“All decisions regarding domestic student tuition fees and student levies will be made by the University Council on the 21 September.”

“The 2006 Council resolution you refer to is no longer in place.”

Which is funny, because Victoria has increased its fees by the maximum allowable amount literally every year since 2006.

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