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USyd students charged double for maths units

A USyd spokesperson says they cannot "retrospectively" change fees for existing students.

The University of Sydney is reclassifying its fees for 2022 after students in certain 3000-level mathematics units were charged double the amount they were supposed to.

Commonwealth-supported students in the units MATH3078 PDEs and Waves, MATH3978 PDEs and Waves (Advanced), MATH3974 Fluid Dynamics (Advanced) and MATH3977 Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics (Adv) found they were being charged $993 per unit, while their other MATH-coded units cost $493 per unit.

Fees for students in Commonwealth-supported places — which comprise the majority of domestic students — differ based on each unit, not a student’s degree.

Mathematics units are classified in the cheapest Band 1 ($3950 for an equivalent full-time study load, or $493 per unit), while science and engineering units were classified in Band 2 ($7950 for a full-time load, or $993 per unit).

This is the case for both commencing students (who are under the new Job-Ready Graduates Package) and existing students (who pay “grandfathered” fees according to the previous system) in 2021.

But while the government sets fees for each discipline, USyd recommended classifying the 3000-level MATH units in question as “science” or “engineering” units due to their applied nature, meaning they would fall into the more expensive Band 2.

After SRC President Swapnik Sanagavarapu raised the issue with the university, a University of Sydney spokesperson confirmed that these units would be classified into Band 1 for students in 2022, but could not “retrospectively” change fees for existing students.

This means that existing students in these units are due to pay the $993 listed on their Commonwealth Assistance Notice (CAN), despite the University acknowledging that it would be “more appropriate” to classify them “in line” with other maths units which cost $493.

Honi has also confirmed that their 4000-level counterparts (MATH4078 PDEs and Applications, MATH4074 Fluid Dynamics and MATH4077 Lagrangian and Hamiltonian Dynamics) cost $493 per unit, further highlighting this inconsistency.

A University of Sydney spokesperson said this was because “the 3000 and 4000 level units were proposed several years apart by different sets of academics and professional staff,” but did not address why a review was not undertaken earlier.

The fine print on each CAN says that students must contact the HECS and Domestic Fees Office at hecs.office@sydney.edu.au within 14 days of the issue of the notice if they believe there is an error.