Students have been hit with a new $12 fee for GP consultations at the University of Auckland Health Service, which used to be free. Till December last year, healthcare at the University was funded by the Student Services Levy. Full time domestic and international students pay a levy of $689, which has not decreased in line with the changes to the Health Services funding model.
“The Health Services provide a basic level of healthcare for students who can’t afford to access other providers,” says Arena Williams, President of the Auckland University Students’ Association.
“There may be some students who can afford to pay the new fee, but University Health Services played a special role in delivering free care to those most in need.”
Funding cuts for vital services are expected to continue as universities around the country struggle with broader cuts to the tertiary sector. “However, passing rising costs on to students without considering the impact on student welfare is not the answer.” says Williams.
“The service is a central part of University life. It is the first port of call for very sick students who cannot sit exams, and is the only primary health provider nearby which offers a specialised service for young people,” says Williams.
“We are opposed to the new fee, but we accept that a shift in the University’s attitude to universal service provision may be inevitable. In that case, we would expect that students would see a decrease in their Student Service Levy payment.”
The Auckland University Students’ Association will continue talks with the University department in charge of service provision before students return for semester one.