Late enrolment fee angers student

19:55, Mar 09 2010
Jason Zhao
STUDY ON HOLD: Jason Zhao's fees are $120 higher after he enrolled at Victoria University one day late. 'I believe they are just thinking about money.'

In a bid to reduce enrolments, Victoria University is charging late enrollers a new $120 fee many students did not know existed.

One student has postponed his study, partly in protest against the fee. Of 10 Victoria students talked to by The Dominion Post, six were unaware of the fee and a seventh had not been told about it but assumed there was one.

Victoria University is the only one of New Zealand's eight universities to introduce the fee this year, with two charging nothing at all for late enrolments.

Those that do charge a fee - Auckland, Waikato, Canterbury, Lincoln, and Otago - say the system has been in place for years. All but Otago have significantly later cut-off dates than Victoria.

Victoria applied statistics student Jason Zhao said he had never heard of the fee at Victoria until he was charged it after enrolling on February 11 - one day late. He had seen no notifications about the change and in previous years had enrolled late without a charge.

"If the university really want their students to be keeping informed about new policy, the university should send an email to all students regarding this fee and post this information in each school's website," he said.

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He had delayed study by a trimester partly in protest of the fee after being told the university would not waive it. He had been given permission from his professor to enrol in the course only on February 11, meaning he could not have enrolled in time.

"I believe they are just thinking about money," Mr Zhao said.

Victoria University academic services student director Pam Thorburn said the late fee was charged by the university for the first time this year.

Victoria had run a campaign to alert students to the new fee, including posters, updates on its website, and advertisements in student media and The Dominion Post, she said.

"In today's tertiary environment where enrolments are capped, Victoria needs to carefully manage the number of student enrolments.

"By introducing a late application fee, which most other universities already enforce, we hope it will encourage students to apply early to ensure their selection to the programme or course of their choice," she said.

If university enrolments hit predicted levels this year, she estimated the fee would generate about $15,000 for Victoria.

The fee would be "carefully monitored and assessed", she said.

All universities charging a late fee were asked how much they expected to raise through it this year but only Auckland, which expected to raise between $14,000 and $19,000, and Otago, which expected to raise $205,000, responded.

Victoria University Student Association president Max Hardy said, though no students had yet complained to him about the late fee, it was likely some were unhappy with it.

As a way to manage enrolment numbers it was a "blunt instrument", because it was unlikely to put many people off studying.

"I think a lot of students take a while to figure out what they want to do and the university is penalising them for that."

However, he said the university had little time to figure out how to deal with the enrolment cap, which was introduced by National last year.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR LATE ENROLMENTS

Auckland: Late fee in place since 1980 and set at $100 a course. Cut-off on Friday.

AUT: No late fee.

Waikato: Late fee in place for many years and set at $100 per student. February 26 cut-off.

Massey: No late fee.

Victoria: $120 late fee per student introduced this year with a February 10 cut-off.

Canterbury: Late fee "not new" and set at $100 per course ($200 maximum). Cut-off at end of the first official course day, which was this month.

Lincoln: Late fee in place for "many years" and set at $50 per course. Mid-March cut-off.

Otago: Late fee in place for 70 years, and set at $87 per student. Cut-off on December 10 for first- year students and January 15 for returning students.

The Dominion Post