Students say fee increase unfair

University of Otago students agreed  increasing student fees by 4% was unfair and would put students under more financial pressure. Photo by Craig Baxter.
University of Otago students agreed increasing student fees by 4% was unfair and would put students under more financial pressure. Photo by Craig Baxter.

The University of Otago's decision to raise fees by 4% was unfair on students and could put some people off studying, students spoken to by the Otago Daily Times said yesterday.

The comments come after the university council yesterday voted to raise domestic fees on all but one course by the maximum allowable 4%. Vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne said it was a question of either cutting the quality of the services it provided or raising fees.

Zoology and marine science student Jessica Pullen (21) said the fee increases would put students in a more stressful financial situation, especially given the changes made to student support in this year's Budget.

"I think it's ridiculous. I mean, they have already increased so much in the last three years. I am third year now and some of the papers I did in first year have increased by so much," Ms Pullen said.

Law and theology student Jordan Grimmer (19) said while he understood the university was under pressure financially, "putting the costs on to us is not necessarily the best thing to do".

"People can always put it against their student loans and pay it off in the future, but I think it will definitely deter some people, especially people on lower incomes [from going to the University of Otago]," he said.

Law and psychology student Niha Jalota (19) said she feared the situation would end up like it was in America, where it was too expensive for many people to go university.

"It kind of defeats the purpose of getting a degree, because you are in so much debt ... that you just end up paying it off for the rest of your life. That's not what you want to do to the young generation."

Accounting student Letitia London (19) believed it could result in more graduates going offshore so they could pay off student loans more quickly.

Otago University Students' Association president Logan Edgar, who voted against the increase at the council meeting yesterday, said the increase would make things a "bit tougher" for students.

"Student loans just keep ballooning ... [and] you have just got to pay back more," Mr Edgar said.

However, given the university's financial situation, he felt the increase was inevitable and it was unlikely any kind of student protest could have stopped it.

"If ever a fee increase of 4% was going to happen it was going to be this year," he said.

Other students spoken to by the Otago Daily Times declined to comment on the grounds they did not care about the fee increases.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

Staff salaries

The single biggest cost the University has is staff salaries. The University has to keep raisning fees because the staff continue to vote themselves pay rises.