Shock over Joyce admissions
The national student union has been left shocked today by candid comments made by Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce’s to Parliament's Education Science Select Committee.
Mr Joyce said he was “proud” of the cuts the government had made to student allowance eligibility, denying thousands of students allowances since 2008.
The highest profile cuts occurred to postgraduate students in Budget 2012, removing all eligibility for all students –regardless of income.
NZUSA national president Rory McCourt says Joyce’s comments should be a wake-up call to middle New Zealand.
“Today’s admissions show that rather than regretting these cuts, the Government has been quite enthusiastic about the reducing opportunities for New Zealanders.”
“They’ve justified seven years of cuts under the backdrop of dark economic clouds, while all along they’ve been ‘proud’ to wield the knife and cut opportunities.”
Mr Joyce also stunned students by admitting that he thought it was “fair” for students to receive less weekly support than unemployed beneficiaries.
Mr McCourt says “Mr Joyce thinks it’s fair that someone on the dole without children, without commitments, should get more support than a typical student working to better themselves. Most Kiwis would find that situation deeply wrong.”
“It’s sad the Government is not interested in encouraging Kiwis into life-changing education by paying students more than the dole. ”
Mr McCourt says student support should rise to incentivise the unemployed to study or upskill, and to help students with rising rents.
“At the moment, it doesn’t pay to be a student. We need a real rise to even get back to where we were in 2008. The rent crisis, for example, is hitting students hard.”
“In 2008 the Government was aspirational for New Zealand. They said they would back people to better themselves. Sadly, Mr Joyce’s comments show how far they’ve strayed from wanting to make New Zealand a land of opportunity.” says Mr McCourt.
A typical student living in Auckland would have to borrow to live, receiving no state support; while a typical unemployed beneficiary without children living in the same suburb would be entitled to $320.10 per week, including $145 of accommodation supplement.
The accommodation supplement is not available to students.
The minority of students still entitled to allowances after the Government’s cuts can qualify for the $40 a week accommodation benefit in some cities, bringing their total weekly support to $215.10 a week, $105 less than a beneficiary.