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Loans simply to live: Greens join student protest

25th January 2008

Loans simply to live: Greens join student protest

Green Party Education Spokesperson Metiria Turei is to join tertiary
students at Parliament to protest student allowance polices which have
forced the average student debt up to nearly $30,000.

The Green Party's cooperation agreement with the Government requires
them to make budget allocations for raising parental income thresholds
which will increase the number of students eligible for student
allowances.

"The Green Party wants to make sure the number of students getting
full allowances increases, as that is where the real need is," Mrs
Turei says.

"If the Government simply raises the top threshold, so that more
students are entitled to $20 a week, it will be a failure to meet our
agreement and a gross insult to students."

New research released today shows that just to cover essential living
costs, students are required to take out bank loans and use overdrafts
and credit cards.

"There is no justification for students being the only group in
society forced to borrow simply to live.

"This inequity is directly reflected in a significant reduction of
enrolments from students from poorer backgrounds, down from 15 percent
in 2004 to 6 percent in 2007.

"The new research shows that 88 percent of students believe that
loans, which are taken out just to survive, will have some impact on
their ability to buy a house.

"Over a third say it will impact other important life decisions such
as when to have children and ability to save for the future.

"These are significant decisions that no previous generation has had
to consider on the basis of a crippling loan often acquired while
still a teenager and in the early twenties.

"Universal student allowances must be restored if we are to deal with
the ramifications of a generation growing up in debt such as the loss
of our graduates to overseas jobs, the inability to get into the
housing market, and the forced delay starting families," Mrs Turei
says.

"The fact is that Government policies are falling far short of a fair
deal for tertiary students who are being compelled out of the country,
either to earn enough to pay off their debt or to avoid it
altogether."

ENDS

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