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Govt Cannot Dodge Plummeting Student Allowance

2 May 2005

Govt Cannot Dodge Plummeting Student Allowance Numbers

The fact that far fewer students are getting allowances is a damning indictment on the Government's tertiary education policy, the Green Party says.

Figures published by the Aotearoa Student Press Association this morning show that while student numbers increased by 28 percent between 2001 and 2005, the number of students receiving an allowance had dropped by 23 percent in the same period.

"The Government has been boasting around campuses that it has increased access to student allowances," Green Tertiary Education Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos said. "Yet these figures completely contradict that boast and put the lie to the Government's claim to be improving the lot of students."

"The Government needs to come clean. Its approach to tertiary education needs an urgent and fundamental re-think. We know that, of the $7 billion of student debt, around half of it was borrowed for living costs. That's why getting the student allowance system right is such a vital part of tertiary education policy."

The proportion of students getting an allowance has fallen by 32 percent in four years, the figures show. This startling statistic runs completely counter to what the Government is claiming about the student allowance system, Nandor said.

"The Prime Minister claimed in her Budget speech last year that, during Labour's second term, more students would get student allowances," Nandor said. "In fact, under Labour, far fewer students are getting allowances.

"As recently as last week, the Government was justifying its tertiary education record by saying that it has made it easier for students to get allowances.

"Yet we know that while giving with one hand it has been taking with the other by scrapping the independent circumstances allowance. As a result, their efforts to broaden eligibility criteria for student allowances have failed to help out even a single extra student."

The figures showed that Labour's band aid solutions were not working, and stronger action was required, Nandor said.

"What is needed in the allowance system is simplicity and universality. The Greens say we need a universal student allowance, set at the level of the unemployment benefit, for all full-time students."

ENDS

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