Sunday, November 28

Lack of Fee Waiver Information Disappoints Students Trapped in Residence Halls


Some college students are frustrated that they weren’t told what would happen to their housing payments before the 72-hour travel window closed two weeks ago, and now they feel trapped in their halls.

Generic library / students

Some students would not be in dormitories if they had known about a fee refund or an absence waiver.
Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Last week, nearly every college announced that students in the hallways would be waived or reimbursed for accommodation fees for those leaving for lockdown. Fares will resume normally once students are able to return to their halls, which are likely to be below alert level 2.

The University of Canterbury does not currently offer a break in its fees for hall students. However, it is discussing the possibility with the private partners who operate its rooms.

More than 6,000 students are staying in residences across the country, and most of the accommodation buildings are half operational. Otago has more, with nearly two-thirds of its students remaining. The University of Victoria has about 30 percent.

And while student advocates have said it is a good thing that students are not being charged while they cannot return to their accommodation, it is possible that more would have vacated their hallways within the travel window if they had known earlier.

New Zealand Union of Student Associations (NZUSA) National President Andrew Lessells said messages to students should have been proactive.

“They should have been clearer with the students who decided to stay, [about] what it would be like to live in a room on level four – it’s like a managed isolation facility, except it’s a bit more garbage, “Lessells said.

Shanay, a freshman at the University of Victoria, agrees that’s what it feels like in her locked room.

Victoria’s students were on a study break when the closure was announced, and Shanay had been taking extra shifts at work to help pay for room fees, which come in at around $ 2,000 per month.

He said he wished he knew about the fee waiver before it was too late to move out.

“All I understood was that I am paying, I pay almost two grants a month, so I should stay, because I am working to live here. If it had been communicated beforehand, I would not be here. I do not like being here in particular.” said.

The University of Auckland is the only university that informed its students about accommodation while the travel window was open. Slightly less than half of his students stay in his accommodation.

Green MP Chloe Swarbrick, who holds the party’s college education portfolio, believes many of the colleges were caught off guard by the shutdown, but other outbreaks had always been possible.

“I am really encouraged by the movements of the University of Auckland in particular and anticipating and anticipating what was going to happen during the two weeks, so that the students would be certain. But once again, we have seen that it is not the same kind of approach. it was taken across the board, “he said.

Last year, several colleges failed to implement full fee waivers for students in accommodation, after closing most of the hallways prior to closing.

Hall’s students, particularly from the University of Victoria, threatened to strike accommodation rates after the university tried to resume partial rates while the country was at alert level 3 last year.

Swarbrick instigated the National Inquiry into Student Housing last year, in response to outcry from students concerned about their rights as hallway residents.

“Student accommodation providers have a legal obligation to the welfare and pastoral care of the students in student accommodation. Therefore, it is up to them to find these solutions,” Swarbrick said.

A new code of practice for the pastoral care of national and international tertiary education students will come into force next year, outlining the new expectations that all tertiary education institutions must meet for the safety and well-being of students.


www.rnz.co.nz

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