Students deeply concerned at support cuts   3 May 2012

Students concern at recent changes to student support has been worsened by today’s announcements. Minister of Tertiary Education Stephen Joyce has confirmed the following changes:

• The recent incentives for voluntary student loan repayments will be rescinded;
• An earlier signalled rise the student loan repayment threshold, moving it to 12%;
• An earlier-announced freeze in the parental income threshold for the student allowance has been extended to four years; and
• Student allowances will only be available in the first four years of tertiary study.

Earlier, students had expressed dismay at the increase in the student loan repayment threshold. On Wednesday, President of Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA), Arena Williams, noted that “The current repayment rate for student loan borrowers of 10% is already high. Graduates earn less than the mean full time wage in their first five - ten years of work. The system punishes people who're trying hard to get ahead in their careers and don't have disposable income."

Moving the repayment rate to 12% means that New Zealand’s repayment rate is now three times the base rate of Australia, and will affect not only future, but also present students. With wages currently well below those in Australia, students fear that more graduates will head overseas. “New Zealand wages are already low. To effectively institute a 2% tax increase on anyone earning over $19,084 per year will inevitably result in more graduates heading overseas to ensure they can earn a wage which leaves them with some disposable income”, said Ms Williams.

The changes to the student allowances scheme are also of grave concern. Student allowances provide support to students from low-income backgrounds For a student under 24 to receive the allowance, their parents combined income must be less than $55,026. Today’s changes amount to a cut in real terms. Freezing the threshold so that it doesn’t account for inflation risks shutting deserving students out of tertiary education, according to Ms Williams. "These cuts to student allowances will limit eligibility. Simply put, students who have the potential to achieve top results in tertiary education won't be able to study. These kids lose and their communities lose."

Research has found that up to 15% of students are in dire financial difficulty.[1] "We are frequently approached by students seeking financial support and even food parcels," said Sam Bookman, Education Vice-President of AUSA. "Even at the full allowance of $206.73, it's very difficult to afford rent, food and textbooks. Everyone from the University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor to the Prime Minister's own Chief Science Advisor have expressed concern that Auckland University's international ranking is slipping. However, if students are placed under this kind of financial stress, it's inevitable that their grades and research are being affected"

There is also considerable concern at the previously unannounced intention to restrict student allowances to only the first four years of tuition. “Many University courses are longer than four years,” said Ms Williams. “The effect of this announcement is to discourage low-income students from entering courses such as medicine and optometry, as well as conjoint degrees.”

Concern has also been expressed at the effect the budget may have on Maori and Pacific students. "Universities around the country are putting in efforts to recruit higher numbers of Maori and Pacific students," noted Pania Newton, co-President of Nga Tauira Maori, Auckland University Maori Students' Association. "It's unfair to tell these students that they should be entering tertiary education to do better for their families and communities, but not providing the support required to get them there."

According to Ms Williams, the changes will undermine New Zealand's reputation as a country where fairness is rewarded, and equality of access is strived for. "It's the government's role to facilitate equitable access. New Zealanders won't accept a tertiary system which only allows kids from rich families to succeed. If we need to pay for allowances to get clever kids through so that they can contribute to the economy that my generation will be left to manage, then that's money well spent."

The recent announcements follow a pattern of gradual reduction in Government support for students groups. Past cuts have targeted solo parents, older students, recent migrants and those in long-term study.

[1] Baseline Report of the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ).

(AUSA)

Add a comment

Bookmark and Share

Your Comments:

left by Mike Cole 4 May 2012

Without doubt the current attitude of Government and some employers and people in NZ toward students and tertiary education is short-sighted and will only harm this country.

It is time to accept that tertiary education is critical right now especially nwhere qualifications and regulataion are the key buzz words.

We should be helping students to study for the long term benefit of NZ - heck why don't we as a nation "allow" students who work full time for [say] 5 years in NZ immediately after qualifying to have their debts written off by the Government.

How the heck do we expect young people to make tehir way in the working world when they start with such high debts - it stops them buying tehir first home, probably from amrrying and simply encourages them to work off-shore.

Come on NZ and those muppets in the Beehive - this is ALL our future!

News

Customs makes record drug seizures

1 Mar 2017 News
28 Feb 2017 Customs Minister Nicky Wagner is today congratulating Customs on a record number of drug seizures in 2016. “Customs... more

Victoria Square restoration underway

1 Mar 2017 Canterbury Earthquake
28 February 2017 The restoration of earthquake-damaged Victoria Square is now underway, Associate Minister supporting Greater... more

Business

Positive step forward for pay equity

1 Mar 2017 Business News
28 Feb 2017 State Services Minister Paula Bennett has welcomed an agreement with unions which will see the Government’s new pay... more

New Zealand companies impress at Dubai tradeshow

1 Mar 2017 Business News
1 March 2017 Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has attended the world’s largest food tradeshow in Dubai today, as... more

Living

3rd Position, Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series

21 Nov 2016 Lifestyle
Emirates Team New Zealand EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND CLOSES IN 3rd POSITION THE LOUIS VUITTON AMERICA’S CUP WORLD SERIES more

Arts Foundation Award recipients for 2016

14 Nov 2016 Lifestyle
The Arts Foundation Next generation of internationally acclaimed talent among the Arts Foundation Award recipients for 2016Under ... more

Property

NZ house prices gain 11% in October

14 Nov 2016 Property
Article - BusinessDesk Monday 14 November 2016 10:28 AM NZ house prices gain 11% in October, driven by sales of higher value homes By... more

RBNZ sees pressures building in Auckland construction sector

11 Nov 2016 Property By Paul McBeth
Article - BusinessDesk Thursday 10 November 2016 04:04 PM RBNZ sees pressures building in Auckland construction sector By Paul ... more

Migration

Recognised Seasonal Employers employ more Kiwis

8 Feb 2017 Migration
7 Feb 2017 Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse welcomes a report showing the vast majority of employers who take on seasonal... more

Good progress on investment attraction strategy

8 Dec 2016 Migration
Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce has welcomed news that New Zealand is attracting a higher level of quality international... more

Travel

Weirdest things visitors Google before coming

6 Feb 2017 NZ Tourism
8 Feb 2017 Does New Zealand celebrate halloween?  Is Auckland a dangerous town- these are some of the subjects visitors Google... more

New campaign to get more Aussies to Northland

30 Jan 2017 Travel & Tourism
30 January 2017 A new marketing campaign starting this week to attract Australians to Northland is an excellent approach to... more

Sport

VALE: Tania Dalton 1971-2017

1 Mar 2017 Netball
VALE: Tania Dalton 1971-2017 March 1, 2017   The Netball community is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Silver Fern... more

Silver Ferns wrap up Quad Series with big win

6 Feb 2017 Netball
6 Feb 2017 The Silver Ferns finished runners-up in the Netball Quad Series after completing a well-crafted 70-39 win over the SPAR... more

Columns

Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade

11 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the Gareth Morgan crusade First published on Werewolf more

Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome

10 Nov 2016 Opinion
Column - Gordon Campbell   Gordon Campbell on the US election outcome more

Kiwi Success

Spencer to be Acting Governor of Reserve Bank

8 Feb 2017 Appointments
7 Feb 2017 Finance Minister Steven Joyce will appoint current Deputy Reserve Bank Governor Grant Spencer as the Acting Governor of... more

Temporary Chairs appointed to Canterbury and South Canterbury DHB

1 Feb 2017 Appointments
30 January 2017 Health Minister Jonathan Coleman has today appointed temporary Chairs to the boards of Canterbury and South... more

Recruitment

New employment resource for young people

1 Mar 2017 Recruitment
28 Feb 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith and Associate Education Minister Louise Upston have... more

Record number of people in employment

1 Feb 2017 Recruitment
1 Feb 2017 Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith has welcomed the record number of New Zealanders now in... more

s