HECS hikes likely to be around 6pc

By ZOE SATHERLEY

HECS FEES for Southern Cross University students are likely to rise by at least 6 per cent, but they could be slugged more than double that amount.

Student Representative Council (SRC) manager Damian Connor said the minimum fee increase was not in response to news this week that SCU is operating at an annual loss of $5.8 million.

Rather, it's a response to the Federal Government's new rules ending compulsory union membership.

Mr Connor said HECS fees could rise even further to cover the university's debts, as flagged by Vice-Chancellor Paul Clark on Thursday.

He said the SRC had been in negotiations with the university over the need to raise HECS fees to cover the loss of student services when union fees stop next year.

The fees have been used to support many essential student services on campus. Without the fees, the services and about 150 jobs are facing the chop.

To avert this disaster students may need to wear a 6 per cent increase in HECS fees, Mr Connor said.

"That is a big enough imposition. Any further increase to cover the university's operating deficit would impact severely and we hope SCU isn't planning on hitting students with a bigger rise," he said.

While SCU fees may rise, jobs look secure, a spokesman for the National Tertiary Edu- cation Union said.

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