It’s Fees Protest time again; Saving Our Students!

September 29, 2008

It’s that time of year again, so on behalf of student activists on Victoria University of Wellington campuses, I’m going to say something about tertiary education policy.

I principally joined the Greens in 1999 in shock at the $3 billion student debt, with the realisation that the Green Party had the best idea of how crippling this was going to be for an entire demographic of young grad’s, for a good chunk of their future.
I have been gratified to see first Nandor, then Meyt, achieve gains in the areas of interest write-offs on student loans, then interest-free student loans (but sadly, not back-dated); and a constant policy of universal access to student allowances, which is still in the campaign for accessible education for all.

Having got that off my chest, here’s the latest from my Alma Mater:

The VUW Council is meeting at 3pm on Monday, 6th October, 2008 to discuss fee-setting for 2009. It is expected that a 5% fee rise will be put to Council members to vote on.

The Education Action Group (EAG) is calling for all students with an interest in this issue to meet at VUWSA, ground floor of Student Union Building, Kelburn Campus, at 2.30pm, on Monday 6th October, 2008, before proceeding over to the public gallery of the Hunter Council Chamber, to protest against this fee rise.

A 5% fee rise means an extra $186 – 309 per undergrad average years’ enrollment, or $235 – 274 increase for taught post-grad, $216 – 262 increase for post-grad by thesis. That’s a lot of lunch-money, or a couple of weeks’ worth of rent if you’re lucky.

Currently, Student Debt is at $10 billion*, with an expectation that this will tick over to $11 billion in the new year, before the fee rise mooted will take effect. Constant fee rises each year only exacerbate the rate at which the total student loan debt increases. Interest-free loans policy is only a palliative for this problem, which is keeping young graduates working overseas for longer and longer periods of their lives in order to keep debt under control.

Come and join the protest!

There will be a banner-making session at 5pm on Sunday, 5th October, in the foyer outside VUWSA reception; anyone interested please e-mail president@vuwsa.org.nz for further information on building access.

Volunteers wanted to help with leaflet drops and poster-runs; reply to same address if you want details of how to help with this.

*details here: http://www.students.org.nz/index.php?page=10_billion

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