Tertiary Education Costs

Amie Richardson in the SST reports that Kiwi students pay some of the highest university fees in the world with research from Buffalo University ranking New Zealand fourth in the world for fees at public tertiary institutions.

Rather annoyingly the article does not quote a particular publication or reference, so one can easily check the source data. Google News doesn’t show any other media reporting a study from Buffalo. Finally much searching finds a footnote in a UK AUT journal which has me discover the International Comparative Higher Education Finance and Accessibility Project.

As the SST article notes the figures are from 2001, and have presumably been public information for some years, so I am not sure how it qualifies as news.

The project does show US$2,500 for B.Ed, $2,400 for LLB and $2,100 for B.Com in NZ in 2001. It calculates direct study costs as being $3,200 for humanities, $3,800 for sciences.

Looking at the database I find Chile is much higher, Canada higher for moderate and high public unis, US higher for moderate and high, Hong Kong higher, Australia is higher, Japan is higher, Singapore has some higher.

Now this is not proof that the SST article is wrong, because I don’t know the basis for their assertion and they have not given any data to back their assertions. How much was our average fee, how much were those higher? Did they take the lowest fee for each country or the average?

The bottom line is that with no actual references cited, only unnamed research, and no figures provided, the assertion is hard to justify. It may be correct but how do we know this? And with the spy scandal lately, a policy of “trust me” isn’t enough.

One specific assertion was that the average costs are higher than those at similar institutions in Australia. Well the database shows Australian instruction costs range from $3,155 to $$5,380 at public unis. This is generally more expensive than NZ (all figures are adjusted into US$).

Again the SST may be absolutely correct. I may even be looking at the wrong data. But I would like to see some facts to back up assertions, so we can decide for ourselves.

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