28 February 2012
Welcome to New Students – But Take a Look Around
A new university academic year begins and the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations welcomes thousands of new students to campuses around the country. However, while welcoming them and wishing them well, the association’s President Pete Hodkinson is encouraging all students to look around and consider who might not be in their classrooms.
Hodkinson points to a number of government changes, and says students should be asking “Who is not in your classroom this year? Who is not on campus or not in your lecture theatre?”
Since last year, older students have been barred from accessing living costs and courses costs through the student loan scheme and part time students can no longer get assistance for their course costs.
“With the effects of high unemployment and the Canterbury earthquakes still being felt, many older people would have been considering tertiary education. Others have considered part time study to up-skill while continuing in work to pay the bills. Without access to financial support many will not be able to participate and the opportunity to improve their productivity – and benefit the economy - will be lost,” says Hodkinson.
New migrants face a two-year stand down on accessing student loans, which Hodkinson notes “could significantly delay their integration into New Zealand society”.
In accordance with government policy, most universities have introduced managed enrolment schemes that prioritise young, full time school leavers over other prospective students. This denies the opportunity of tertiary success for those that were let down by the compulsory school sector or who made other choices when they were young.
“We know education opens doors and provides opportunities. We think that these opportunities should be for everyone – and any limitations should based on academic reasons, not on age, national origin, or when and/or where someone went to secondary school,” said Hodkinson.
NZUSA is the national representative body for tertiary students and has been advocating on student issues since 1929.