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Lacklustre Budget for Students

Lacklustre Budget for Students.

Today’s budget announcements bring little to smile about for New Zealand students. A lucky few will now qualify for student loans, but the majority have received little more than the ability to borrow an extra $5 a week, an amount which will quickly be cancelled out by the rising cost of living.

Moves to cut the age, at which student allowances are means tested based on parental income, from 25 to 24 have raised eyebrows amongst the student community. Means testing the parental income of a student aged 24 is equally as arbitrary as means testing at 25.

“The average 24 year old student doesn’t receive a lot of financial assistance from their parents, but neither does the average 23 year old. Dropping the means testing age by a year is a step in the right direction, but it is just replacing one arbitrary age with another, the only solution is a universal student allowance” commented Otago University Students’ Association President Simon Wilson.

Raising the parental income threshold by 10% is also a small step in the right direction.

“Both these moves will see an increase in the numbers of students who receive an allowance, but we’ve seen countless small movements on allowances over the years and the majority of students still need to borrow to live. This budget won’t change that” said Wilson.

The only move from the Government which targets the majority of students is to allow them to borrow an extra $5 a week in living costs.

“The amount of living costs that students can borrow hasn’t increased since the introduction of the loan scheme. Now in a time of spiralling living costs we’re seeing a $5 a week increase. On one hand it’s bad, because it means students will leave tertiary education owing more to the Government. On the other hand it’s insulting, because $5 a week will make very little difference to the average student” said Wilson.

The introduction on a universal student allowance is the only way to provide a fair system for New Zealand students. This budget moves in that direction but not in any meaningful way.

“This was not the budget we were hoping for” summed up Wilson.


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