Bradford Rejects Fee Excuse

  • Max Bradford
Tertiary Education

Tertiary Education Minister Max Bradford has rejected a claim by the Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury University that substantial student fee increases are the fault of the Government.

"Professor Daryl Le Grew's excuse that the Government is underfunding tertiary education by $1400 an equivalent full-time student (EFTS) place is patently untrue.

"The students have seen through this, as they quite rightly should," Mr Bradford said.

Mr Bradford said the facts of the situation were the opposite of Professor Le Grew's assertions.

"Our estimates are the equivalent full-time student (EFTS) funding for the university has risen from $84 million in 1997 to $86 million in 1998 and 1999, reflecting the expected number of students at the university.

"In fact, the University of Canterbury like other universities is possibly better off under this year's funding formula because the cap on the number of equivalent full-time student places funded by the Government has been removed.

"Estimated EFTS funding for Canterbury University next year is expected to be largely unchanged because the number of students attending the university is not expected to change next year," Mr Bradford said.

"If the University of Canterbury is smart enough to attract more students then it will get increased funding, but it will have to recognise the strategy of putting fees up by a significant amount is more likely to see students leave or not come.

"Any decision to increase fees is simply driven by the university's desire to undertake a very rapid building programme which is the university's decision alone and has nothing to do with the Government," he said.

"Like everyone else in the tertiary sector, the University of Canterbury has to learn to live within the income provided by the Government and whatever other sources it believes it can obtain revenue from.

"This is not an issue about Government funding.

"It is about the expenditure aspirations of the university itself.

"As the students have realised, the opprobrium for fee increases lies squarely on the shoulders of the Vice-Chancellor and the university council and no-one else," Mr Bradford said.

The Facts:

- Government grant has increased from 1997 to 1998 by $2.3 million (GST exclusive). The 1999 grant is estimated to be only about $36,000 more than 1998.

- Domestic student fees increased by $4.5million from $20.9 million in 1997 to $25.4 million in 1998. Prof Le Grew is reported as saying the 1999 domestic fees total is $27.6 million. He is urging a further increase in 2000 of $13 million to a total of $40 million. The latter is a 91% increase over 1997.

- Operating expenditure increased by $12.5 million (10.6%) from 1997 to 1998. This includes a one-off increase in the provision for academic staff retiring allowances.

- Total capital expenditure for 1997 plus 1998 is nearly $80 million. The Ministry of Education reports this is mostly new building, but includes some seismic strengthening and lab upgrades.

- Cash deficit is being financed from a working capital facility.