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Student support failing to keep up with rising housing costs

6 April 2017
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Student support failing to keep up with rising housing costs: report

Students are calling for urgent relief as rent prices soar to record-highs, a recent report by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has found.

‘The $217.03 Student Allowance and Accommodation. Benefit provides little relief when students are paying $250 per week on rent alone’, says National Student President Jonathan Gee.

The Income and Expenditure Report 2017 has found that average rents in Auckland have increased by almost $75 per week in the last five years, from $175 to $250 for a room in a three bedroom house.

Gee says that student hardship has grown considerably worse since 2011.

‘That year, the Government froze the parental income threshold for eligibility, a significant factor in locking out 24,000 students from having access to the Student Allowance.’

‘Today, only a third of full-time students receive the Student Allowance. The rest borrow week to week in order to live and add to the national student loan balance of over $15 billion.’

‘It’s no wonder why repayment times are increasing as graduates begin their careers with unmanageable debt.’

‘It’s time for the Government to unfreeze the parental income threshold for eligibility, and raise the Student Allowance.’

A mental health crisis in tertiary education
The Report also finds that a third of students do not have enough income to afford their basic needs.

‘This alarming figure is further proof that a mental health crisis exists within tertiary education. Students are saying that they’re sick of having hunger and financial distress impact on education they already pay so much for.’

Locked out from degree-level study
The Report also finds that the tertiary population is looking less like the general population, despite all initiatives to make it look more like it.

Two-thirds of decile 8-10 students who achieve University Entrance end up attending degree-level study, compared to just a third of those from decile 1-3 schools.

If you’re in tertiary education, you’re also three times more likely to have attended a private school compared to the rest of the population.

‘Tertiary education should represent the make-up of the general population. Unfortunately the cost of education, coupled with limited student support, makes this education simply a dream for many.’

‘We’re calling for the Government to introduce a national ‘first in family’ scholarship, to break the poverty cycle and improve opportunity for all.’

The Income and Expenditure report can be found here.

ENDS

Key findings:
• Access to tertiary education is dropping, especially for our poorest families
• Student housing costs have increased significantly, especially Auckland where the average rent price is $250 per week per room in a three bedroom house
• A third of students do not have enough income to meet their basic needs
• Repayment times for student debt is increasing
• 78% of students believe their student debt will have a significant impact on their ability to save for their retirement

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