Budget 2011- bad for students, worse for women
Student leaders are condemning today’s Budget announcements that will see education and training put out of reach of many New Zealanders, with women being hardest hit.
“The Government has made it very clear today that is does not care about the career potential and financial security of many members of our society,” said Caitlin Dunham, National Women’s Rights Officer at the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
Budget 2011 announcements included barring those aged 55 and over from borrowing for living costs and course-related from the Student Loan Scheme, and excluded many part-time students from borrowing for course-related costs. The changes further emphasise the Government’s preoccupation with full time school leavers and leaves those who wish to gain life experience before study, out in the cold.
“Students over the age of 55 are disproportionately female, from a time when tertiary education was not widely promoted as an option for women,” said Dunham. “These are the women who may not have had access to higher education when they left school, and now that they are older and have raised families, need to receive formal training to re-enter the workforce,” said Dunham. “Cutting access to student loans for this group will see the doors unfairly shut on education opportunities for them,” added Dunham.
“Many students may be part time due to circumstances, and not simply choice, such as raising a family, having a disability or trying to juggle work and study at the same time. Many will be almost on a full time study load. They’re seen as part time, yet still face the same child care, text book and transport costs as full time students, so this cut is very unfair,” said Dunham.
“Coupled with cuts in previous Budget’s to the Training Incentive Allowance, today’s announcements show that National clearly don’t value the contribution that older and women students and workers make to the success of the nation’s economy and society,” concluded Dunham.
NZUSA is the national representative body for tertiary students and has been advocating on issues for learners since 1929.