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Otago Student Spending – THE FACTS

Otago Student Spending – THE FACTS

In an article about the financial contribution of tertiary education to Dunedin (‘Students a fair trade for city’, Otago Daily Times, 11.06.03) comments regarding two students who spend more on beer than they do on rent – billed as “Students spend more on beer than rent” by TV One’s The Last Word - is causing expressions of anger by students.

OPSA President, Michelle Watt, has today received several calls from students concerned by being represented in such a manner. “A pair of students who spend nearly double their rent on beer each week might make a good cover photo, but the facts are they extremely unrepresentative of the vast majority of students” said Ms Watt, continuing “Equally as many students, probably more in fact, live in poverty.”

“These two are not typical students, and there are problems in portraying them as being the ‘norm’.” said Ms Watt. Firstly, their average weekly income ($250) is around 40% higher than the student allowance (received by less than 30% of full-time students) and the student loan living grant - around $150 p/w.

Perhaps more importantly - no matter what their income, students who spend around double their rent money on beer are in a very small minority. Many of the calls received today were from students ranging from annoyance to outrage at being represented as being able to spend more on beer than rent. The vast majority of students spend less than 30% of their rent on entertainment each week, as research quoted in the same article shows*.

OPSA is also concerned about the effects of such portrayals of students – “It makes working for positive change so much harder when these false stereotypes are reinforced, I wish there was as much focus on students in the very real economic hardships user-pays education has caused.” said Ms Watt.

* figures from the NZUSA, Income and Expenditure Survey (2000):

……………………Accommodation………..Food……..Housekeeping………..Entertainment

Otago Poly………$70.43………..$39.92………$19.73……….$20.10

Otago Uni……….. $70.35……….$39.93………..$19.98……….$20.25

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