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Fairness Needed In Govt's Treatment Of Students

Tuesday, 22 February 2005

Dunne: What's missing from Govt's treatment of students? Fairness

In announcing United Future's student support policies today, leader Peter Dunne pledged to restore fairness to the way the Government deals with tertiary students.

"Students under 25 can only get an allowance if their parents' income is low enough, yet young people on the dole are not assessed on what Mum and Dad earn - the whole set-up is just essentially unfair.

"The message this sends is that somehow a young person is financially dependent on their parents if they go to university or polytech, but not if they're unemployed," he said.

"Either way, it's not realistic to expect parents to support their children until they are 25."

The Government has even changed the rules to treat married students and those who have already worked for two years as if they are financially dependent on their parents as well," Mr Dunne said.

Even if students qualify for support, they receive less in accommodation allowances than someone on the dole. A student living away from home in Auckland would receive $40 a week at the most in accommodation allowance, whereas if they were unemployed they could get $100.

If students don't qualify for an allowance, then they have to rely on their families or they have to take out a student loan for their living costs.

"We don't ask anyone else in society to borrow just to live, so why do we treat our best and brightest in this way?"

United Future will ensure that students are treated fairly by:

progressively lowering the age at which they are assessed for a student allowance based on their own income, and not their parents, from 25 to 20. *
increasing the accommodation supplement for students to match what young people on the dole receive. * restoring access to the Emergency Unemployment Benefit for students unable to find work over summer period. * assessing the student allowance eligibility of married students and those who have worked previously based on their own income, not their parents'. * allowing parents to deduct $3000 for every other child in the family from their income for the purposes of calculating student allowance eligibility.

"If we can make the allowance system fairer by introducing these policies, then we can reduce the burden of student debt that threatens to blight the future of our young people," Mr Dunne said.

ENDS

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