The University said it had concluded its five-week waver period for accommodation to support students during the lockdown, incurring costs of more than $2 million, vice-chancellor professor Grant Guilford said.
Guilford said the $150 weekly fee was heavily subsidised, however Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association president Geo Robrigado doesn’t agree.
Robrigado said the decision was "absolutely appalling and unfair” and that VUWSA was in talks with senior management at the university beforehand, so were blindsided by the announcement last week.
“Why would you email this at the end of the day before a long weekend where students won’t be able to contact the university before Tuesday? You are basically removing the ability for students to question this or even make arrangements if they cannot.”
Robrigado said this put a strain on students financially and emotionally, and the university passing on the $2 million cost to the students was unacceptable.
Naomi Scott, a Victoria University Law student and resident at Katharine Jermyn Hall, said while the fee was a kick in the teeth she understood the university's position as it was not making any money at the moment.
However Scott said it was hypocritical for the university to say it was in financial trouble after it had largely increased rents this year with no apparent reason for doing so.
“It’s annoying because its one of those things they said we wouldn’t have to pay for till we got back, but now we have to pay for it,” said Scott.
New Zealand entered alert level 3 at midnight.