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Postgraduate students invoke Sir Paul Callaghan’s legacy

Media release – Tuesday 20 November 2012

Postgraduate students invoke Sir Paul Callaghan’s legacy

Faced with the Government’s decision to strip student allowances from postgraduate students a group of Victoria University students are conducting their own grassroots survey into expected impacts of the policy.

As the organisers of the survey Amanda Thomas and Bella Duncan say they have been motivated to challenge the policy by Sir Paul Callaghan’s dedication to making New Zealand a place where talented people want to live and work.

“We want New Zealand to be a place where we support postgraduate study and try to keep our talented researchers, not a place where study becomes so unaffordable and elitist that our talented young people go offshore,” says Amanda.

The Keep Our Talent survey about student allowance changes has received more than 200 detailed responses. The next step will be a qualitative analysis of the comments received to questions such as the impact of the change in policy on future study choices.

“From a preliminary analysis of responses it’s apparent that current students are experiencing significant distress about their ability to afford to complete their postgraduate studies. Those that are committed to finishing have highlighted concerns about how they will provide food and shelter for themselves, and often for dependent family members as well.

“Many other respondents have indicated they will not be able to return to university for further study. While there is clear private good from postgraduate study, there are also vitally important public gains in areas where we desperately need to generate more innovation and knowledge.

“Our concern is that a large number of New Zealand’s prime candidates for postgraduate study will be put off pursuing further study in a climate in which one in six New Zealand students are already facing absolute financial distress.

“This isn’t the kind of future or legacy that Sir Paul Callaghan advocated for, and it’s not a future that will serve to bring out the best in New Zealand’s society or economy”.

Responses to this grassroots survey will be analysed and a summary report released to the Minister for Tertiary Education, and all interested groups, in December.


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