No fees campaign launched at Newcastle

Issue 

No fees campaign launched at Newcastle

By Alex Bainbridge

NEWCASTLE — Confirmation from the vice chancellor of Newcastle University, Raoul Mortley, that up-front fees are to be increased, as well as reports of the introduction of fees for other courses, formed the backdrop to the enthusiastic first meeting of the Education Action Club, an anti-fees campaign group at Newcastle Uni, which was held on April 6.

The meeting decided to organise a rally for the national day of action against fees on May 3 and a public meeting in the main courtyard on April 27. Recognition was widespread that the underlying reason for the push toward up-front fees and increases to HECS was insufficient government funding for higher education.

Around 30 students from Newcastle Uni travelled to Wollongong to participate in the national day of action on March 23. Students signing anti-fees petitions welcome the idea of organising (and advertising in advance) an action in Newcastle. There are indications that the academic and general staff unions will support students' actions.

Nine out of 11 faculties have had their budgets cut. This comes amid calls from the administration to the faculties to increase fee revenue. "The faculties are all, almost without exception, increasing their funding in the full-fee student income area", the university's finance director told the Newcastle Herald.

Gross university income from fees is expected to reach $9.8 million this year, mostly from full-fee paying overseas students. The administration wants to dramatically increase the revenue from Australian fee paying students, currently $170,000 per year.

Vice Chancellor Mortley has said that fees will be set at the "market rate". Currently the average charge of all fee paying courses at Australian universities is over $7000 per year.

Formerly the Academic Senate had a chance to debate the imposition of or increase in any fee. In future, the vice chancellor will set the fee in consultation with the university's finance officer and the relevant dean.

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