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Vice-Chancellor slams justified future investment

Media Release – 20 July 2008 – For Immediate Use

Vice-Chancellor slams justified future investment, Auckland students beg to differ

Students at the University of Auckland return to classes tomorrow, disappointed that their Vice-Chancellor appears out of touch with their financial situation and dismissive of moves to improve it.

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.

“We agree universities need to be properly funded to ensure high quality education for all, but 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.

“A universal student allowance is a justified future investment that would enhance student retention and completion rates, allow them to achieve their full potential, and retain our skilled graduates in New Zealand. The cost pales in comparison with the real election bribes of the season – tax cuts,” he adds.

The scheme’s estimated cost of $728 million (over four years) is modest compared to the $10 billion of student debt currently carried by New Zealand’s children and grandchildren. It is also approximately one fifteenth of the $10.6 billion estimated cost of tax cuts (over four years) already announced by the Government, and would be an even smaller fraction if the National Party proposes larger tax cuts.

Students clearly support a universal student allowance. The 2007 NZUSA Income and Expenditure Survey (a comprehensive survey of students and their finances) found that a high proportion of domestic tertiary students agreed that a living allowance should be provided to all full-time students (79%).

The Auckland University Students Association has campaigned hard along with other student associations nationwide 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."


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