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50 Students Occupy Symonds Street

50 Students Occupy Symonds Street

20 October 2013

At 4pm on Monday the 21st of October, 50 University of Auckland Students occupied Symonds Street. The protest has stalled traffic on one of Auckland's busiest roads and police are now directing traffic.

Students are frustrated by the University’s year after year lack of consideration of student welfare by increasing fees regardless of economic conditions. Student debt in New Zealand has surpassed $13 billion and will continue to rise because of underfunding by successive governments in Wellington. NZ currently spends 23% less per student than the OECD average. Students strongly oppose the need to look for corporate funding because of this funding shortfall as this compromises academic integrity.

Reclaim UoA spokesperson Mikaela Hunt says, ‘Students are suffering under the weight of their debt. Currently, students and graduates are forced to repay their student loan at a level of income well below the poverty line. New Zealand has the harshest repayment rate in the world, with twelve cents from every dollar taken from every pay cheque. This is grossly unfair, as the current tertiary education minister, and almost all other members of parliament, benefited from a fully funded tertiary education system.’

The University of Auckland’s decision to further indebt students is completely avoidable. The Vice-Chancellor, Stuart McCutcheon, is currently NZ’s highest paid public official, earning $660,000 per year and has spent billions on questionable capital investments in his tenure.

Mikaela Hunt says, 'We are here to make it abundantly that students oppose fee increases and a future which chains us and our country to debt.'

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