The introduction of pay parking at the University of Canberra last week has been described as rushed and poorly designed according to staff and students who are now required to pay upwards of $3 to park on campus for anything more than 20 minutes if they do not have a permit.
UC administrators are also in the process of checking or refunding 350 students who may have inadvertently bought multiple permits though an online payment system operated by a third party.
Of these, 250 had already been refunded, a spokesman said.
In November, the UC brought forward its decision to introduce pay parking in response to the Federal Government's announcement of an efficiency dividend across the tertiary sector.
Previously slated for introduction in 2015, pay parking began last week as a revenue measure.
UC Student's Association President Jacob White said the fundamental question was why the university had rushed it through when the efficiency dividend legislation was still stalled in the Senate.
"They have rushed it through to help pay for an efficiency dividend which may or may not even eventuate,” he said.
Mr White said students had been frustrated by the new system not allowing for cash or EFTPOS payments to be made.
This impacted on international students in particular, who might not have easy access to credit facilities in Australia, he said.
There were also teething problems with the ticketing system, which had led to 350 students buying multiple tickets by accident.
A UC spokesman stressed that only a small proportion of students had been affected given 4000 permits had been purchased, and refunds were still being processed.
Meanwhile, the rates have not gone down well, with one student who needed to park for just 30 minutes at 6.30pm tweeting on Wednesday “does UC have the most expensive parking in Canberra?”
Parking fees apply between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday.
The UC yearly permit rates for students are $325, compared with $336 at ANU, while UC staff pay $650, compared with $679 at the ANU.
However, casual rates beyond the first hour are generally more expensive at ANU, at $2 for the first hour, $4.50 for between 1-2 hours and $8 for 2-3 hours.
National Tertiary Education Union ACT division secretary Stephen Darwin said the new paid parking regime “has led to considerable cost and inconvenience for staff and students”.
"The poor planning of entrances and exits has created considerable congestion around what was a relatively peaceful campus. Little thought has also been given to the needs of staff who may ride or use public transport and don't need park everyday, who are forced to pay for set fortnightly or yearly passes," he said.
Mr White said that while landscaping and more pedestrian and bike friendly paths were being planned, students were having difficulty walking around the boom gates and, as someone who cycled to university, he was required to lift his bike over bushes to access the campus.
“It's far from ideal,” he said.
The UC spokesman said the move brought the university into line with the overwhelming majority of Australian universities and Canberra institutions and was an appropriate response to funding cuts.
“We can no longer justify funding car park maintenance and upgrades out of resources we need for teaching and research,” he said.
The pay parking introduction would help fund a range of transport improvements on campus, including an additional 40 CCTV cameras with more planned, improved lighting, new facilities for cyclists, including cycle hoops for easier access, more parking spots, including 100 spaces to be added in time for the beginning of semester one 2014, and more disabled and motorbike spaces.
“Our parking team reports an almost universally positive response from drivers to the implementation,” the spokesman said.
UC casual parking rates
- 0-20 mins free
- 20 mins-2 hours $3
- 2-4 hours $6
- Full day $7.50
- fortnight e-Permit (one-off payment of $13)
- semester e-Permit (recurring payment of $13)
- yearly e-Permit (lump sum in advance of $325)