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Another summer begging on the breadline

Another summer begging on the breadline

Green MP Nandor Tanczos says the Government has condemned students to yet another summer spent begging on the breadline.

The Green Tertiary Education spokesperson was commenting on reports that the Students' Association of the Waikato Institute of Technology had opened a foodbank to feed students unable to find work and ineligible to receive Work and Income assistance over the summer.

Nandor said foodbanks have become a regular feature of university life since the National Government scrapped the Emergency Unemployment Benefit (EUB) in 1998.

Despite then-opposition Tertiary Education spokesperson Steve Maharey saying it was "mean-spirited attack on students" and promising to repeal the decision in 1998, Mr Maharey said in the last session of parliament before the summer recess that "the Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship was the emergency unemployment benefit, in practice."

Nandor said that clearly Mr Maharey had forgotten to liase with StudyLink and Work and Income, who were denying students access on the basis of the 1998 decision. "Unless there is regulatory or legislative change, Mr Maharey's words will be meaningless."

"The student support system is awash with inequities. Student allowance payments are less than the unemployment benefit, and parental income-testing applies. These are some of the flaws that make it financially more attractive to be unemployed than to seek an education," said Nandor.

Nandor said he had been made aware of a number of students who enrolled in university summer courses, not intending to complete or even attend them, just to qualify for the living component of the student loans scheme. "Their debt grows and their academic record is tarnished, just because the Government wants to keep sitting on its record surplus, like a old hen camping out on an unfertilised egg.

"If the Government wants to grow a better society, it needs to stop being miserly and invest in people," said Nandor. "Students would be a good place to start."

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