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NZUSA & ATSA Accept Student Loan Money

NZUSA & ATSA Accept Student Loan Money

This week’s student loan summit will ignore the fact that the New Zealand University Students Association (NZUSA) and the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) receive most of their income from money borrowed by students under the student loan scheme, Student Choice spokesman Clint Heine said today.

This year students will have to pay over $16 million, over half borrowed as loans, for compulsory membership of student associations. Some of this money is paid by regional associations to NZUSA and ends up in the bank accounts of NZUSA and ATSA.

“Some of the debt accumulated by students has been caused by the imposition of compulsory membership of student associations. Most student politicians support compulsory membership and readily accept borrowed money,” Mr Heine said.

“Student politicians like the loan scheme because, along with compulsory membership, it means they don’t have to be concerned about actually meeting the needs of students,” Mr Heine said. “Compulsory membership means associations don’t need to persuade students of the supposed benefits of membership as students must pay a fee if they want to study. The ability to borrow student association fees means this cost can be quietly added to the total amount borrowed,” he said.

“Without the facility to borrow compulsory student association fees, students would have to pay the fees directly from their own pockets. This would cause them to question the draconian requirement to join a political group before being allowed to study, and might lead them to question some of things that student politicians say and do on their behalf. That’s the last sort of scrutiny student politicians want to receive,” Mr Heine said.

“If student politicians think the loan scheme is so unfair, they should refuse to accept any money borrowed under the scheme. As long as NZUSA and ATSA continue to accept borrowed money, and thereby contribute to further student debt, their complaints about the unfairness of student loan scheme will ring of self interest and hypocrisy,” Mr Heine said.

NZUSA and ATSA oppose students borrowing to pay for their education but support students borrowing to pay for membership of political groups. The organisations should be asked to account for this contradiction, Mr Heine said.

Student Choice promotes freedom of association through voluntary membership of student associations.

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