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Students say Govt tinkering ‘missed opportunity’

Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association

Students say Govt tinkering ‘missed opportunity’

Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) President Rory McCourt said he was disappointed that the Government's Budget was a ‘missed opportunity’ to grow the knowledge economy and reduce inequalities through education.

Yesterday’s Budget announcements removed access to student allowances for over-40 year olds by nearly 50 per cent, and removed access entirely to allowances for those over 65 years old.

McCourt said the changes were not as severe as Budget 2012, but predicted they would hurt New Zealand’s long-term economic prospects.

“Abandoning these over-40 year old learners misses the opportunity to recognise what their ongoing contribution could be to New Zealand. They’re our nurses, our teachers, our plumbers, and our innovators. Retraining and up-skilling older kiwis is critical to New Zealand's growth in a dynamic, changing, global economy,” said McCourt.

The changes to student allowances reduce access for over-40 year olds from 200 to 120 weeks and would leave those students affected about $16,500 worse off, meaning many would have to borrow a total extra $13,600 to live week-to-week.

VUWSA’s Welfare Vice-President, Simon Tapp said that Budget announcements missed the opportunity to fix inequality in education.

"These changes, as with so many others in tertiary education, hit the poorest, hardest. This reduction of access and continuing the shift of people from allowance to loans is killing equal access to education," said Mr Tapp.

“The Government’s changes worsen inequality in tertiary education. The wealthy don’t have to borrow, but low-income mature students may be effectively up to $30,000 worse off,” said Mr Tapp.

Mr McCourt said that if the Government is still committed to a brighter future, it should unlock the full potential of our tertiary education sector, and our talent: the students.

"Tinkering with access won’t achieve that brighter future. It will just leave students poorer and our economy worse off,” said McCourt.


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