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Auckland students slam Vice-Chancellor’s remarks


THE AUCKLAND UNIVERSITY STUDENTS' ASSOCIATION (INC.)
TE ROOPU TAUIRA O TE WHARE WAANANGA O TAMAKI MAKAURAU
4 Alfred St, Auckland

Media Release – 20 July 2008 – For Immediate Use

Auckland students slam Vice-Chancellor’s remarks

Students at the University of Auckland are angered by comments by their Vice-Chancellor that criticise moves towards a universal student allowance.

University of Auckland Vice-Chancellor Stuart McCutcheon said Friday that the universal student allowance being contemplated by the Government would amount to "an unjustified election bribe," adding that the money spent on student allowances should be spent instead on universities.

“While we agree universities need to be properly funded to ensure high quality education for all, what is the use of world-class facilities and well-paid lecturers, if the students being taught are too hungry and tired to learn? It is insulting to describe moves to ensure all students are properly supported throughout their studies as merely an ‘unjustified election bribe’,” says AUSA President David Do.

“Many hard working students are ineligible for a student allowance, must borrow money to pay rent and food, and work long hours on top of full time study to make ends meet, which all adversely affect their studies. Properly supporting students through a universal student allowance would enhance student retention and completion rates, and allow them to achieve their full potential,” he adds.

Much of the money spent on what is deemed student support is actually contained inside the student loans scheme itself, which pays for tuition fees, and from which students can borrow to cover living costs if they can’t get a student allowance. Meanwhile the total government expenditure on student allowances between 1999 and 2006 has barely changed.

“It is perfectly justified to return to a situation where all students are properly supported while they are studying. $728 million over four years is relatively modest compared to the $10 billion of student debt we have today,” says AUSA President David Do.

“The Vice-Chancellor’s comments show how out of touch he is with the students he presides over. New Zealand’s vice-chancellors come from a generation who got their education almost free and without the burden of debt before they started their adult lives. Now they get six-figure salaries while students graduate with five-figure student debts,” says AUSA Education Vice President Sophia Blair.

The Auckland University Students Association, along with other associations nationwide, have campaigned hard to ensure more students are properly supported while they are studying. AUSA calls on Stuart McCutcheon to front up and directly explain to students why he believes better support for them is “unjustified.”

ENDS

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