University raising fees by maximum

The University of Otago is raising both its domestic tuition and student services fees as it prepares to welcome an additional 132 equivalent full-time students (EFTS) next year.

Despite increasing fees by the maximum amount possible, the university will be ‘‘under pressure’’ to reach its own financial targets next year,  a report shows.

However, by the Tertiary Education Council’s performance standards it will still be considered low-risk. The university  will raise  both tuition and student services fees by 2%. The expected increase from services fees is predicted to bring in $298,000.

Vice-chancellor  Harlene Hayne told a meeting of university councillors on Tuesday the decision was not one the university was making lightly. The Government’s support for tertiary education was "hugely" tipped on the side of the students rather than the institutions, she  said.

All councillors with the exception of student representative and Otago University Students’ Association president Caitlin Barlow-Groome voted in favour of the increase. Ms Barlow-Groome was concerned about the potential stress the rise would cause students.

The university is expected to generate $5.6 million more in domestic tuition fees and $4.2 million more in international tuition fees in 2019 due to the changes, which will help it achieve the Tertiary Education Commission [TEC] target of 3% surplus growth for the wider University Group. 

The tuition fee increase means the cost of taking courses will rise by up to $800, with the university’s most expensive programme, the master of dental surgery,  climbing from $35,985 towards $37,000 a year.

The cheapest courses, undergraduate commerce and teaching,  rise from

$5531 to $5642. Even with the maximum allowable fee increase, the University Group’s operating results would continue to be under pressure in 2019, falling below the council target of a $35.2 million surplus. Student services fees at the Dunedin campus will be set at $813.74 next year, and there will also be increases on the Christchurch, Wellington, and Invercargill campuses.

The university’s operating surplus for the eight months ending in August 31 was $147.9 million, $13.4 million higher than the budgeted surplus of $134.5 million.  

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