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Students: Minister’s Decision Hurting the Vulnerable

Media Release – 29 March 2012 –

Students: Minister’s Decision Hurting the Vulnerable

University of Auckland students are up in arms about a move that will see 1500 students lose weekly payments that enable them to study. Tertiary Education Minister Stephen Joyce has announced that unlike previous years, there will be no adjustment to the parental income threshold for student allowances.

Many students rely on student allowances in order to be able to afford costs of study, accommodation and living. The current system already makes it difficult for most students to access allowances. The assumption that all students under 24 are supported by their parents is simply incorrect.

"It's simple. Clever, able young people won't be able to study after secondary school because they can't afford to," said Arena Williams, Auckland University Students' Association President.

“With high rent prices, increases in course-related costs and high youth unemployment, students are struggling to afford basic essentials such as doctors’ bills and travel costs. Even a small reduction in student allowance funding has the potential to see students dropping out of study altogether."

“We regularly assist students living on $208 per week from the student allowance, paying $150 a week in rent, $40 in food and $15 in travel. As soon as this payment is reduced or eliminated, there is no way students can make ends meet,” said Auckland University Students' Association Welfare Officer, Kelsey Carter.

The Minister’s announcement, despite being labelled a “first step”, follows a number of cuts to student support. These include limiting access to permanent residents, long-term students, older students and solo parents. Students are becoming increasing concerned as to what will be cut next.

The Auckland University Students' Association believes that limiting access to tertiary education rights is not something which will benefit New Zealand in the long term. An inequitable and uneducated society can never hope to achieve the targets for economic growth set out by the current government.

ENDS


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