Thursday, October 13, 2005


Form letter to TEC

Ok, I said I'd do this and here 'tis. Below is a form letter asking the Tertiary Education Commision not to approve a ten percent increase in domestic tuition fees at Victoria University. After the PR-disaster for VUW that was the injunction, I'm not sure they will even ask for it but better safe than sorry.
Note that my technologically-redundant self can't figure out how to put this on another page, or anything flash like that, so either copy and paste it into Word or do whatever it is technologically able people do with these things.
The letter below is a form one, so please change it to reflect your own style and so they don't tune out immediately:)
Contact details for the Tertiary Education Commission can be found here. Sadly, the Chair of the Commission is Russell Marshall, former Chancellor of VUW. There are nine other Comissioners, feel free to send only one letter or address them individually. Information on the Commissioners can be found here.
Dear Commissioners/[insert name]
I am writing in regard to a possible request by the Victoria University of Wellington Council to the Commission to allow a fee increase above the five percent prescribed in the Fee Maxima Scheme: that is, a fee increase for domestic students up to ten percent.
I strongly oppose any move by the TEC to grant such a request. I believe it would be contrary to the Tertiary Education Strategy, statements by the Minister of Education and the goals of TEC to allow such a request by Victoria.
Requests for increases above the Maxima are only supposed to be granted in extraordinary circumstances. Victoria University is not in dire financial need, nor is it likely to be. It has consistently posted healthy surpluses, which are expanded when related bodies such as VicLink are included in the cumulative surplus. There are no circumstances in the situation of Victoria University that could be considered extraordinary.
One of the key changes identified in the Tertiary Education Strategy is to "Increase responsiveness to the needs of, and wider access for, learners". Allowing further increases in domestic tuition fees restrict access to tertiary education as is not at all responsive to the needs of learners. At a time when student debt has reached $8 billion, and not all students receive a student allowance, it is unduly harsh to allow such large increases in tuition fees.
Subsequent to the increase of domestic fees at Victoria in 2004 (an increase of 4.7%) the Minister of Education, the Hon Trevor Mallard, stated that fees should not be increasing. For the TEC to then grant the request of Victoria University for a large increase would go against the public statements of the Minister responsible for the Commission.
TEC are focused on providing a high quality knowledge economy. However, regular increases in domestic tuition fees are making tertiary education, and therefore a knowledge economy, increasingly difficult to achieve.
For all these reasons, and many more, I would ask that any request by Victoria University for the TEC to allow a fee increase above the Maxima be denied.

Yours Sincerely,
etc etc.

Change it how you will, but send it soon - VUW fee setting is on October 31st.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Tackling the big issues

It's good to see the Nats keeping it in perspective. Tens of thousands of people have died in Pakistan, we have yet to form a government, global warming is reaching crisis point, and oil is due to run out. Those issues must have just been too mainstream however, because Eric Roy has gone for the jungular.
He's looking after our moose.
I have to admit, I didn't know we had moose. (Mooseses? Moosi? Meece?) Apparently they live in Fiordland and are in danger of being culled by DOC. If DOC can find them anyway - Mr Roy is relying on DNA evidence to support the existence of the moose, which were released in the Fiords in 1910. He wants to get them an exemption under the National Parks Act.
So, just to recap - the new Member for Invercargill has committed to protecting moose that no-one has seen from a cull that no-one has mentioned. To back up his new conservation drive, he uses the example of his friend in Wyoming:
A friend of mine in Wyoming knows there are moose on his property, because he finds their antlers quite often. Yet he has never seen one. They are very shy animals. Therefore, if DoC wanted to go into Fiordland to exterminate our local moose, the cost in man hours and resources such as helicopters to find an animal that actively avoids humans would far exceed the resources needed to sign an exemption under the Act,” he said.
I'm sure if the bulk of New Zealanders knew we had moose, they would probably agree with Mr Roy. Problem is, most 0f them don't. Pity there could be no DOC-instigated cull of conservaties tories - I'm sure that would garner much more support than our local moose population.
I wonder if they would be any good as pets? The moose, not the tories.
Meanwhile, on a larger scale, the union movement in NZ are breathing a sigh of relief - they don't have to deal with Howard's new employment legislation. The part that surprised me the most was the exemption of businesses of under a hundred employees from the rules of unjustified dismissal regulations. Job security just went out the window for most businesses in Australia, which usually affects productivity in the workplace. Small businesses can now sack their employees at will, and in many cases employees will have to negotiate many terms of their employment that used to be taken for granted, such as annual leave and bonuses/penal rates.
Rather them than us...

Thursday, October 06, 2005


VUW v VUWSA: Injunction lifted

Well, events have overtaken me .. Vic lifted the injunction last night, and a very boring "no comment" on the whole shebang has been issued by VUWSA and VUW jointly. More interesting are the details of the suppressed article, the proposed fee increases by the new VC (credit to No Right Turn):
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 it also looks like Pat Walsh has been taking lessons from Auckland University, inserting a comment relating to the level of fees impacting on the perceived quality of the institution. In other words, if you charge more, people think you are better and want to attend. (NRT referred to this as 'snob value').
Options 2 - 4 will require permission from the Tertiary Education Commission as they go over the 5% threshold. I'll be posting a form letter here to them in the next few days as people need to show TEC that permission should not be granted.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


ASPA in support of Salient

The Aotearoa Student Press Association have come out in support of Salient - an unsurprising move, since the ASPA President is Holly Walker, editor of Critic in Otago and one of the first publishers of the gagged story.
It's been interesting to follow the media treatment of this - initially the story revolved around the injunction, but has since widened to fee setting and the use of TEC exemptions. Nobody seems to have noticed that Massey are intending to do the same thing, although they have also put their hand up in the media today to join the party.
The full hearing is at 10am tomorrow in the High Court - get along to it and support freedom of the media if you get a chance!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Further Salient News..

Keith Ng has just posted a letter received in his capacity as News Editor of Salient. The ramifications are mind-boggling.

Check it out here.

Salient also need dosh to finance their legal challenges - email if you can help.


Not for me, thanks..

Just out - Marian Hobbs, George Hawkins and Paul Swain will not be seeking Cabinet posts this term. While Paul Swain wants to spend more time with his family, Marian has hit it on the head, stepping aside to allow fresh ideas and faces through. There has been much talk about succession in both Labour and National, and a recognition that new blood was needed in the former.
Hawkins was one of the ones I picked as dead wood, and I'm glad he's going. Marian, despite a few slips has been an effective Minister but I think enjoys her constituency duties more. Swain has always been considered a safe pair of hands so it will be interesting to see who takes his place.
My picks (laced with eternal optimism) - the return of Lianne Dalziel, maybe something for Tim Barnett, Darren Hughes, and David Benson-Pope.

Monday, October 03, 2005


Salient gagged over fee setting

Victoria University obtained an injunction on Friday to prevent Salient publishing details of domestic fee setting for 2006. The injunction was carried over until Thursday by Justice Ron Young in the High Court, scraping the final publishing deadline of the last Salient of the year.
Why an injunction? Because Victoria intend to ask the Tertiary Education Commission for an exemption, following the recent move of Massey and the habits of Otago. With permission, they could lift domestic fees by up to ten percent.
It's a pity Victoria forgot about syndication. While both sides spend thousands of dollars on lawyers and filing fees, bloggers and syndicated student newspapers like Critic are happily publishing what Salient cannot.
And so am I - check out Critic's story here. The dissemination of information via the net and blogosphere is even quicker when it is being dragged through the courts..
By seeking an injunction, VUW are drawing far more attention to the issue than a day's worth of lecture speaking. Domestic fee setting is always in the public forum, but this time VUW sought to keep secret, for as long as possibly, their desire to squeeze more money out of students through the TEC back door. Thursday will be interesting indeed.
In other, more irritating news, child protection agencies in New South Wales are encouraging same-sex couples to be foster parents - despite being unable to formerly adopt children in their own right. It was acknowledged by the agencies that there were a shortage of foster parents, and same-sex couples provided a stable environment for troubled children.
Double standards, anyone?

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