Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Campaign to Give Cost of Living Adjustments to Students


NZUSA Campaign to Give Cost of Living Adjustments to Students Gains Traction.

8 July 2014

Press Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

Last month NZUSA released information showing that students throughout the country face increasing housing costs but those receiving student allowances – by definition those who come from the most deprived backgrounds – have been missing out due to an arbitrarily imposed cap.

This month six political parties represented in parliament pledged to support our call for a review of the unjust system.

We called for the $40 cap on the student accommodation benefit (part of the student allowance) to be lifted. The cap was set in 2001 and has meant that in Auckland, for example, the rental-support part of the allowance has not increased for more than ten years. The cap also has frozen the rate in Wellington, Hamilton, Christchurch, Nelson and Dunedin.

This is different from the Accommodation Supplement which is available to all low-income people in New Zealand except for students receiving a student allowance, or those who cannot get one because of parental means-testing.

This discrepancy needs to be addressed.

To provide some background:

A student allowance includes an element for help with rent, but on a different basis than all other low income New Zealanders. However, this housing support for students is capped at a maximum of $40 per week, and has been since 2001. In contrast, the Accommodation Supplement – the one for non-students – provides support of up to $145 per week if you live in certain parts of Auckland, and $100 per week if you live in other expensive places such as Wellington or Hamilton.

Recently the National Government announced that they are going to allow sole parents to access the Accommodation Supplement to be paid in conjunction with their student allowance. We welcome the initiatives which make it easier for sole parents to engage in tertiary study, but if the current scheme is unfair for sole parents it is also unfair for everyone else seeking a tertiary education.

Students deserve a rate of support that increases as their costs increase. It’s all very well for Steven Joyce to claim, as he does, that the Student Support System in New Zealand is ‘about right’ but this glaring failure to keep pace with rising costs means that students getting allowances, who by definition cannot get support from their parents, simply cannot afford to study.

The parties’ spokespeople say:

“Absolutely we would want an immediate review of that cap. It is starting to look like 17th and 18th century Europe where the academics had to have the patronage of a king or noble man to study,” Tracey Martin, New Zealand First.

“This is a call that we support – we’d like to see all allowances available to students be reviewed and to increase the accommodation benefit to the same level as what’s available to those receiving other sorts of benefits,” Holly Walker, Green Party.

“A review of the student accommodation benefit would be included in Labour’s full review of student support… the accommodation benefit is one of those [aspects] which make the system unfair,” Maryan Street, Labour Party.

“The Maori Party supports a review of the student accommodation supplement as one of many actions to address the high levels of student debt in Aotearoa,” Te Ururoa Flavell, Māori Party Co-leader.

“Student’s don’t need a lot to get by but they do need an allowance that covers the real costs of being a student, including rent. Rents have skyrocketed over the past ten years but students still have a $40 cap on their accommodation grants. Students should not be forced to abandon their education because they can’t afford rent. MANA supports the call to lift the accommodation cap,” Hone Harawera, Mana Movement Leader.

“We need to ensure there is an appropriate level of fairness and equity. For those studying in our larger centres where rent is significantly higher the current arrangement is unfair. We will commit to a review of the accommodation supplement and the wider tertiary student support scheme,” Peter Dunne, United Future Leader.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Scoop Review Of Books: Before The Quakes

Remembering Christchurch: Voices from decades past: The Christchurch I lived in for my first 23 years was where four-year-olds walked alone to kindergarten, crossing roads empty of all but a couple of cars per hour. My primary school, Ilam, was newly built on a grassy paddock surrounded by rural land... More>>

6-11 October: New Zealand Improvisation Festival Hits Wellington

Wellingtonians will have a wide selection of improv to feast on with a jam packed programme containing 22 shows, three companies from Australia, two companies from Auckland, one from Nelson, one from Christchurch and seven from Wellington. More>>


Bird Of The Year: New Zealanders Asked To Vote For Their Favourite Native Bird

Te Radar, David Farrier, Heather du-Plessis Allan and Duncan Garner are just some of the New Zealanders championing their favourite native bird in Forest & Bird’s annual Bird of the Year competition, which kicks off today.. More>>


Werewolf Film: It Follows - Panic In Detroit

Philip Matthews: When you heard last month that Wes Craven had died and you wanted to pay homage, you could have sat down with any one of five of his films that helped reinvent American horror at least three times over three decades... Or you could just have watched one of the greatest recent horror films that would probably not exist without Craven. More>>


Werewolf Music: Searching For The White Wail - On Art Pepper, etc

If the word ‘hipster’ means anything – which it arguably doesn’t – it seems to be more of an impulse than a condition. One always headed for the margins, and away from the white-bred, white-bread mainstream... More>>


Scoop Review Of Books: Leonardo da Vinci - The Graphic Work

The breadth of da Vinci’s work is incredible: from animals to weaponry, architecture to fabric, maps to botany. The works have been divided into themes such as Proportion Drawings, Anatomical Drawings and Drawings of Maps and Plans. Each section begins with a short essay. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: James Hector: Explorer, Scientist, Leader

Publication of this comprehensive 274-page account of the life and work of James Hector by the Geoscience Society of New Zealand marks the 150th anniversary of James Hector’s appointment as New Zealand’s first government scientist. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news