International student fees to rise

International student fees for some programmes at the University of Otago are due to increase more than in previous years, as the university aligns its international fees with the global market.

However, returning international students at the university will face an increase of no greater than 2%, the university says.

The university council considered international fees for 2022 at a closed-door session yesterday after students packed council chambers in the Clocktower Building, in Dunedin, before the decision.

In a statement last night, the university said it would "grandparent" fee increases for all returning international students.

If the fees the university council set were greater than a 2% increase on the 2021 fees, international students could pay the lower amount, the university said.

The decision was made to recognise international students’ commitment to the university during the global pandemic, it said.

The university decided on variable fee increases for its new students.

International fees in science, arts, and business programmes were lower than the school’s international ranking would suggest was appropriate, the university said.

The new international tuition fees would be in line with the quality of education and the school’s global market position, deputy vice-chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne said.

"We will not have the most expensive average fees within the country, and will remain competitively placed within Australasia," he said.

Further, the university’s market analysis had prompted no increases for first-year health sciences, dentistry, pharmacy and physiotherapy, study abroad fees, and foundation and bridging programme fees, he said.

The university also committed to the continuation of scholarships that would lead to the majority of incoming 2022 international students paying less than their 2020 counterparts, he said.

Feedback from students played an important role in the council’s decision, Prof Ballantyne said.

Nearly 70 students filled the council chambers for the public part of yesterday’s meeting before the fees were considered in private.

Outside the meeting, before the fees were set, Otago International Students' Association co-president Jehoon Mun, a sixth-year law and politics student, said the draft increases had been "unreasonable and inequitable".

International students already paid about four or five times the fees of their domestic counterparts.

And there could be unintended consequences from an international student fees hike.

International students watched university spending on other projects and recouping fees from international students "feels like an afterthought", he said.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

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