Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Now that Salient has been liberated from its injunction, Matt Nippert has posted the story VUW didn't want you to read. Here's the guts of it:

According to the leaked documents, Vice-Chancellor Pat Walsh presented four options for fee increases in 2006 (for undergraduate and Honours courses):

1. 5% increase across-the-board

2. 10% increase for Humanities and Education; 5% increase for everyone else

3. 10% increase for Law, Humanities and Education; 5% increase for everyone else

4. 10% increase across-the-board

Under all four options, all postgraduate fees will increase by $500 per Equivalent Full-Time Student (EFTS).

But the best bit is this:

There are also concerns that the level of fees is connected to the prestige of the university. One of the Deans says that the "level of fees implies that VUW offers a lower quality product in comparison with other universities. The fee level is not commensurate with the quality of the [Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences] teaching and research programmes."

In other words, they want to charge more purely out of snob value. I'm sure Vic students will feel so happy knowing that they are paying more simply to boost the VUW administration's overinflated opinion of itself.

Salient was right: there is a compelling public interest in the release of this information, and VUW should be ashamed of itself for trying to suppress it.


it's scary stuff, that last bit - that's the exact reason why the Dean of Auckland Med School was in favour of differentiated fees being introduced at UOA - because there was a flat fee the fees to study medicine were lower in Auckland than at Otago, and he thought it damaged the prestige of "his" Med School. Bugger the students.

Posted by Span : 10/05/2005 08:02:00 PM

Hmmmm...just another splendid example of how marketisation of tertiary eduction works for all New Zealanders.

I guess the economists will be scratching their heads: raise your fees to get more students. There goes the demand curve...

Posted by Anonymous : 10/05/2005 09:19:00 PM

Not quite Terence. Economists call the 'luxury demand', such as diamonds (if they were sold in the $2 shop no one would buy them).
But, is tertiary education a 'luxury' good? Should it be one? No and no.
And it ignores that most students don't actually look at the fee level when choosing a uni, they look at reputation, PBRF, what is offered and where it is.

Posted by The Doorman : 10/05/2005 10:01:00 PM

A Giffen Good maybe?

Posted by Bren : 10/05/2005 10:55:00 PM

I don't care as long as I can get a good job to payback my loan. Anyway, It's gonna cost me much to fly to German to get a gratis education. I can't afford that, but I'm not sure if I can ask for more loan to go there and forget VIC. In conclusion, is a NZ free education such a dream?

Posted by Anonymous : 10/06/2005 01:30:00 AM

As a student studying in Germany, after graduating from Otago, I can attest to the fact that it is far cheaper to study here than in Dunedin. And it is nice to be somewhere where tertiary students are treated like students, rather than money bags.

Posted by Shaun : 10/06/2005 02:46:00 AM

that is indeed how it works some times - but i think to a large extent this is just self justification. they want to get more money to pay the staff and reduce stresss on themselves and their pet projects and "hey it makes us cool to charge more" is another reason to do it.

Actually using student loans almost destroys the market for education because students no longer consider costs as "real money" in a certain sense even though the threat of a large loan may be intimidating.

Posted by Genius : 10/06/2005 07:58:00 AM

i think you're half right Genius - sure some students don't think about the cost because of the loan scheme, but there are many who do and base their choices on keeping costs low to themselves and/or doing courses that they think will have a personal return. it fundamentally changes the educational relationship between the student and the institution - it's not about learning, it's about money.

And then there are the people who are debt averse so they never become students, or they wait until they can afford to pay for it themselves (which in some cases will be never).

Posted by Span : 10/06/2005 08:53:00 AM

I am also disturbed by the way they propose their spending options. It makes it look like it is really all just a political process (which I think it is) with various departments trying to grab more money.

> it's not about learning, it's about money.

But it SHOULD be about money to some extent. (And if money doesnt create teh optimal allocation we should rearrange the system so that it can) Money is about rationing resources, for example I might say you need money to pay for your ability to be a doctor because I guess you will be a great doctor and save hundreds of lives - I dont want to not give you enough resources to do that because someone else wanted $50,000 ceroc course.

I need some mechanism to decide who's course is more important otherwise people like you will constantly missing out to joe the ceroc dancer. Money is one way to do that.

There are other ways but to not have any method at all actually results in power being handed t omore obscure parties such as the politics of the council.

Posted by Genius : 10/09/2005 01:52:00 PM