Australia’s decision to force students from New Zealand to pay the same fees as other overseas students has set off a chorus of outrage from Kiwis and warnings of damage to relations between the two nations.
The changes were announced by Simon Birmingham, Australia’s education minister, as part of a package of changes to university and student funding designed to save the government money. Those changes include fee rises of 7.5 per cent for Australian students.
In addition, New Zealand students in Australia will no longer receive the government’s commonwealth fee subsidies given to domestic students.
For a New Zealand student enrolled at the University of Melbourne, an arts degree would jump from $6,349 a year to $29,632 and a science degree from $9,050 to $35,824, according to an example cited by the Guardian.
Bill English, New Zealand’s prime minister, has said he was “pretty unhappy” with the changes, saying they fitted into a pattern of “announcements made either without telling us or at short notice”.
Tim Gassin, the chairman of advocacy group Oz Kiwi, called the move “an act of bastardry to New Zealand and New Zealanders”.