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Unhappy New Year for post-grad students

Tertiary Education Spokesperson

01 January 2012

Unhappy New Year for post-grad students

The Government is sending a clear message to thousands of postgraduate students who can no longer get student allowances- don't try to better yourself or add to our country's health and prosperity, says Grant Robertson, Labour’s Tertiary Education spokesperson.

From today student allowances for all postgraduate students have been abolished, and an absolute limit of four years of allowances has been set for undergraduate study, no matter how many years of study are required for the qualification.

"Thousands of students, mostly from low income backgrounds will no longer have support to do postgraduate qualifications. For many this will mean that they simply will not be able to complete or even undertake their courses. This means they may never achieve their potential and that as a country we will all miss out. Education should not just be for those lucky enough to have deep pockets.

"A recent survey of postgraduate students showed that nearly 40% of them would not be able to undertake study because of the abolition of allowances, with many looking to head overseas.

"I’ve heard from students and their families who are distraught about these changes. It's especially hard on people, such as those wanting to be clinical psychologists or architects, who have to undertake postgraduate study to be able to work in New Zealand. We actually have a shortage of clinical psychologists, which shows just how poorly thought through this government policy is.

"Today is also the day when the government limits allowances to four years of study. This is very harsh on those in the middle of programmes who had no warning of this change. It is short sighted penny pinching from a National Government that is obsessed with cost-cutting rather than the long term interests of students, the country and the economy.

"Steven Joyce needs to urgently revisit this decision. It is sending a message to our best and brightest that their best chance of fulfilling their potential is overseas. That is a tragedy for our country when we need more qualified people to grow a sustainable economy," Grant Robertson says.


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