Summer School brings in $2 million 
13 June 2003, Friday

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By JOHN GIBB

 

The University of Otago's latest summer school has proved financially successful, generating about $2 million in income, well over the budgeted target.

The school's just-released annual report shows income was 9 per cent higher than the $1.82 million budget projection.

Director Dr Claire Matthewson said the "very successful school" also attracted 17 per cent more students (total 1123) than last year, despite offering only one extra paper (total 37). Surveys also showed positive responses from teachers and students.

Dr Matthewson said in an interview yesterday the Dunedin economy had also been boosted by some out-of-town students returning early to the city to attend the school.

In its third year, the annual school has continued to exceed financial and student roll targets, after a successful two-year trial period.

The six-week school, which begins in early January, allows students to gain academic credit for papers which normally take twice as long to study during the main academic year.

Student tuition fees ranged from $349 for a five-credit law paper to $442 for six credits in humanities and $561 for sciences.

Last month, 80 per cent of the school's $1,986,057 total income was returned to the academic departments involved in teaching the school.

The remaining 20 per cent would meet the school's administrative and marketing costs, with any excess also returned to departments, officials said.

Some departments hired staff on contract to teach specialised papers. Most papers were taught by university staff on their existing salaries, on the understanding that leave and study time would be reallocated elsewhere in the year, officials said.

Most popular courses were individual papers in economics (85 students), management (82) and English (69).

Fifty-eight per cent of students cited speeding up their overall degree studies as their main motivation for taking a paper, with 20 per cent citing "interest" in a particular paper.

A questionnaire showed 89.8 per cent of students were continuing their Otago studies from last year, 4 per cent were former Otago students, 3.2 per cent had transferred from other institutions and 3 per cent were first time students.

More than 95 per cent of students found the school helpful.

Another survey showed staff valued students' enthusiasm and commitment as well as an opportunity to explore different ways of doing things.