The National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) finished 2016 in a stronger financial position and had $1.5 million in its bank account compared to $173,000 the previous year.
The university’s strong financial position and access funds were highlighted in the official statistical digest report.
The rise may be partly attributed to the schools increasing fees by 30 per cent between the financial years of 2010 and 2015.
According to the digest, 46 per cent of N.U.S. operating income came from course fees for 2016.
In 2010, the University Council resolved to incrementally increase course fees by 100 per cent when they understood the government would begin a slow process of reducing its budget contributions over the years.
To date, the university has raised its fees by 60 per cent since 2012, and the next 10 per cent increase was scheduled for this year.
Mandria Su’a, Director (governance, policy and planning) at the N.U.S, said the university’s roll continued to grow, but it was not able to upgrade resources or fully meet the student’s needs.
“If we don’t increase the fees and charges, we won’t be able to deliver on our vision, producing quality graduates for the nation.”
Money is being directed towards IT improvements, and building maintenance, and better studying spaces.
“Running and maintaining those spaces is not cheap, to keep them up for a long while,” said Ms Sua.
With the fees the way they were, the school could maintain status quo but never make big changes to improve quality of life for the students, she said.
“We manage, but it is difficult… the government cuts our budget each year.”
Since 2013, government grants to N.U.S have fluctuated between a high of $11,888 in 2014, and a low of $10,587 in 2016.
The most recent N.U.S financial report shows the last two years saw grants in that realm, while 2018/2019 will only see $9,482,000, a 11 per cent drop from the previous year.
But Ms Sua acknowledges that course fees are not cheap, but that they are set accordingly with the costs of living.
Today, a 100 to 300 level course that cost $$213 in 2009, now costs $345.
“So we’re making sure we are comfortable charging what we charge.”
“We are raising fees slowly because we don’t want to put financial pressure on students and their families,” she said.
In order to stop raising fees beyond the 100 per cent increase, the university will continue to monetise resources where possible, through their rental properties, gymnasium and other facility hire, conferences and workshops and their bookshop.
Other reasons for the tall difference in net surplus between 2015 and 2016 are explained by nearly $400,000 tala in course fees for the 2017 school year being taken in June 2016, when the financial year begins in July.