Wednesday, April 26, 2006

In New Zealand: More students do not receive state support

Allowances going down, campus by campus

Information released by the Ministry of Education to the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) under the Official Information Act highlights the decline in the number of students who receive a student allowance on a campus by campus level. (Tables included in appendix below).

“The total number of students receiving a living allowance dropped to 56,806 students in 2005, down from 60,826 in 2004 and over 70,000 in 2001,” said Conor Roberts, Co-president of NZUSA.

“The largest single drop was at the University of Waikato which had 3,541 students receiving a living allowance in 2002 but now only has 2,672 recipients. That’s 869 less students being supported while they study.”

Other large decreases occurred at the University of Otago which had 4,579 students receiving a living allowance in 2002, down to only 4,297 receiving one last year – a drop of 462. The University of Canterbury, which had 3,465 students receiving a living allowance in 2002, was down to only 2,903 last year – a drop of 562. And the University of Auckland which had 8,384 students receiving a living allowance in 2002, was down to only 7,961 last year – a drop of 468.

“Across the majority of tertiary campuses, the amount of students receiving a living allowance has been dropping year after year.”

“This is terrible - fewer tertiary students are being supported while they study and the fact is that one third of total student debt is owed by students who are forced to borrow to live, pay the bills, rent and food.”

Students under 25 years of age have faced tough parental means-testing to determine their eligibility for a student living allowance since 1992.

“The parental means test is unjust and we call upon the Government to increase access to allowances in next month’s Budget by dropping the unfair age test and turn around the declining number of students who are supported while they study.”

“The interest free student loan policy is a positive move for graduates working their way out of debt. However, we need to stop the drivers of debt, such as poor access to living allowances, and therefore prevent students getting into debt in the first place.”

“This Government needs to introduce policy so that all students receive a living allowance and are supported while they study,” Mr Roberts concluded.