By Bronwyn Sell and Francesca Mold

Auckland University has ratified an average 11 per cent fee increase despite angry student protests.

The decision was made yesterday at its Year 2000 budget meeting , behind closed doors and a police line at the university registry after council members had adjourned an earlier meeting besieged by 30 students making constant interjections.

The students said they were frustrated they had not been consulted during the budget process, and a student representative on the council, Sarah Lee, resigned in protest shortly before the adjournment.

The rise in fees means medical students will pay almost $10,000 next year, 20 per cent more than this year. Arts, education and theology students face a 9 per cent rise from $3080 to $3360. Commerce, law, property and science students will pay $3850 - an extra $350 compared to last year - and fees for engineering and fine arts students will rise from $4060 to $4480.

Vice-chancellor John Hood said the council recognised the serious financial pressures students faced and had been reluctant to raise fees.

But the university did not have enough cash coming in and the only way to balance the books was through fee increases.

Dr Hood said the university was given meagre resources by the Government, had severely under-invested in infrastructure in the past decade and could not erode its international reputation further.

Sarah Lee said student problems were heartbreaking and the council was making decisions blindly and should be standing up for students. "The only communities of Auckland this council is serving are those of Remuera and Browns Bay."

The council voted to increase a student hardship fund by $300,000 to $1.6 million.