Labour Needs To Come Clean On Student Allowances
Date: 11 July 2002
The Aotearoa Tertiary Students' Association (ATSA) is concerned that, despite repeated requests, the Labour Party still refuses to give students real detail on their promise to raise the parental income thresholds allowing access to Student Allowances.
"While appreciative of Labour's earlier changes to the Student Loan Scheme, students are not so trusting political promises that they will accept Mr Maharey's promise on faith alone," ATSA National President Julie Pettett stated today, when releasing new figures on the shrinking share of funding provided for Student Allowances.
In 1996, just over 40% of the $761 million allocated for Student Loans and Allowances was provided as allowances. By 2001, this had shrunk to less than one-third of the $1.3 billion total allocation. Over this five year period, funding for Student Loans doubled, while that for Allowances increased by less than one-third. "It is scandalous that students have been offered free and easy access into long term debt through the Loan Scheme, while their right to debt-free allowances continues to shrink," Pettett stated. "The one fundamental reason for this tightening of access has been the refusal by this and past governments to look at the parental-income threshold levels."
Labour's promise to 'progressively rais(e) the parental income threshold levels' offers nothing but the vaguest of assurances. "It defies belief that Mr Maharey does not have a financial benchmark in mind," Pettett stated. "His refusal to provide the financial aspects of the promise cannot be tolerated on a matter of such importance to the thousands of students who face financial hardship. Students need to know by what level the parental income thresholds will rise, and how much additional money will be provided to meet the very real need for Student Allowances. Mr Maharey has this information - if he expects student support, he must accept responsibility to come clean with the financial facts."