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Action Regarding 12.8% Increase to UOW MBBS Tuition

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We have started this petition to address the tuition increase that has occurred this year. The UOW University Council approved a 12.8% increase in the tuition fees for the MBBS program; the 2013 tuition of $47,000 AUD has risen to $53,000 AUD for the 2014 year.

While the international student body does not begrudge the University for raising fees, as an increase was foreseen and agreed upon, we would like to make it known that we feel this significant increase places an undue hardship on students who are already under a large amount of financial pressure. If increases of this magnitude were to continue, many of us would not be able to afford our final year of tuition.

We feel that our concern is justified for the following reasons:

The University released a letter stating that, “from 2014, fees will increase for UOW courses by an average of 5% at undergraduate level, 8% at postgraduate coursework level and 9% for research programs.” The 12.8% increase seen with the MBBS is well above any of these yet no explanation was given as to why we are seeing a substantially larger increase. The MBBS program is classified as an undergraduate degree by the Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students. Therefore, one would expect the increase to reflect increases seen with the other undergraduate courses.

The aforementioned letter also explains that the, “fee increases are offset by [a] generous range of scholarships”, however the vast majority of these scholarships are not available to international students. To be more precise, there are eleven scholarships available for MBBS students studying at the GSM. Of these, only two are available to international students. The total value of these scholarships is $2000; far short of offsetting even this year’s increase, let alone the total sum. Additionally, we have seen no added benefit from this increase in terms of resources, services available, or scholarships.

It was also stated in the letter that the fee increases, “are required…to reflect delivery costs…[and] UOW’s pricing relative to competitor institutions and relevant competitor disciplines.” We are aware that tuition fees fluctuate according to the cost of delivery of education and in relation to relevant competition. However, the average increase seen in the past 9 years from other medical schools has been ~5.2%. Additionally, the rate of inflation, as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics for the fourth quarter of 2013, was 2.7% with a forecasted rate of 2.54% for both the first and second quarters of 2014. Therefore, inflation cannot account for such a large increase either.

We also noted that UOW lacks legislation for the protection of its students regarding tuition increases. Many other institutions have specific policies to limit these increases. For example, ANU has a policy stating that, “all domestic and international tuition fee paying students continuing in their current program of study will not pay more than a 5% increase, compounded each year, from the year of commencement of their program.” Flinders also has a policy stating that, “the quoted fee is a base fee that will be subject to an annual increase of up to 9% (in line with inflation) for each of the subsequent years of the program.” We feel that UOW should have a similar policy in place to protect their international students.

In light of all of this, we feel that this tuition increase is unjustified and unacceptably large. The international MBBS students are proud to attend this program but these issues have raised concerns in the student body. We very much hope that we can come to a mutually agreeable conclusion to help restore the confidence of the student body that UOW has their best interests at heart.

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