A Dunedin couple are upset over proposed price increases for
a new University of Otago child-care centre opening next
The $6.25 million new centre, in Castle St, is set to replace
a Great King St facility in April next year. The Otago
University Childcare Association (OUCA) showed parents a
proposed new pricing structure last week.
A copy of the proposed pricing obtained by the Otago Daily
Times shows increases of up to 417% in the ''short day''
part of the centre, open from 8.30am-3.30pm.
The largest increases are for children who use the facility
for fewer days.
One three-day option increases from $18 a week this year to
$75 a week in 2015.
Both prices include the 20 hours' government subsidy.
A transitional arrangement, with smaller price increases, is
proposed to be introduced when the new centre opens in April
next year until 2015.
A couple with a child at the centre, who wished to remain
anonymous, said the proposed new price structure
discriminated against students and part-time staff, who could
least afford increases, and offered no flexibility.
They were considering removing their child from the centre,
but were left in a difficult position because of the short
The couple felt the reason behind the changes was the amount
of rent the university was charging OUCA for the facility, on
which the university had spent too much.
OUCA president Natalie Harfoot said the association was
beginning consultation with parents about the proposed prices
and no decisions had been made.
However, fees would need to increase because of changes in
government funding and rental costs for the new buildings.
''We are currently in negotiation with the university about
the cost of rent.
''Also, we have proposed to move to a session-based system to
maximise government funding,'' she said.
The association did not believe the facilities were more
expensive than they needed to be. University of Otago chief
operating officer John Patrick said the OUCA set the price
for child care independently of the university.
''The university has agreed the annual rental with OUCA,
although some adjustment will be negotiated to allow for
their part-year use in 2014.
''The child-care facilities were designed in consultation
with OUCA to satisfy their particular requirements,'' Mr