Students crying foul over fees
CENTRAL Queensland's university students like Ashley Borich, are unfairly being slugged more than $260 a year for services they are unwilling or unable to use, Ken O'Dowd says.
The Federal Member for Flynn has put the issue of compulsory student fees for services at CQUniversity in the spotlight, accusing the Labor Government of introducing a system that leaves hard-working students out of pocket.
His comments prompted a strong rebuke from Kirsten Livermore, the Member for Capricornia, who said Mr O'Dowd was making misleading claims and threatened any hope of rebuilding student life in regional universities.
Ashley is one of thousands of students across CQ who has returned to university.
"I'm not happy having to pay another $263," said Ashley, who is doing a double degree.
"I don't know what it is for, other than the government has made another compulsory fee."
The levy is indexed annually and in 2012 stands at $263 per year for full-time students and $131.50 per year for part-time students.
According to Mr O'Dowd, Ashley is not the only student questioning the fee.
Mr O'Dowd said students in his electorate of Flynn could hardly afford to pay more, considering the high cost of living.
"That money would have been better spent on textbooks, study materials or transport," he said.
University vice-chancellor Alastair Dawson said federal legislation was passed in October last year allowing universities to collect a student services and amenities fee.
"This change is designed to grow essential student services which could include things like legal support, health services, child care, counsellors, accommodation support, employment/career advice, student advocacy and sporting facilities," Mr Dawson said.
"CQUniversity intends to continue consulting widely with students about how the funds will be allocated."
Ms Livermore hit back at Mr O'Dowd, saying: "From January 1, 2012, universities have the option to charge a compulsory student services fee but students also have the option to defer this fee through the HECS system until they are earning a decent wage.
"The Howard Government ripped $170 million out of student services which has had a devastating impact on regional universities.
It was the Gillard government's reformed Youth Allowance and boosted student scholarships, she said.
THE CQUniversity experience will be enriched by the extra services provided through the student services and amenities fee, university student association president Brendan Kirkman says.
Mr Kirkman said the money enabled the association, which has been contracted by the university to provide a range of services, to provide high-quality academic advocacy and support services, such as preparing cases for plagiarism, review of grades, disciplinary hearings, exclusion hearings, faculty hearings, appeals and deferred examinations.
All students also receive a free student diary and wall planner and it's easy for students to set up a club or association with others who share a similar interest.