NZUSA works with Govt to fix StudyLink
10 August 2015
Media Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations
The national students’ union has been hard at work alongside the Government to dramatically improve StudyLink’s service delivery for students.
NZUSA President Rory McCourt says students were deeply unhappy with the service in 2013, when 800,000 calls went unanswered and students experienced considerable delays in getting their entitlements, –including until well after their courses had started.
The union listened to students and made improving StudyLink a top priority. Through the partnership, the unanswered calls figure was slashed to less than 8,000 this year, and almost all students got their payments on time, he says.
The partnership benefited from a digital discussion group with feedback sourced from hundreds of students across the country.
“Using the constructive feedback from NZUSA, StudyLink could confidently set a due date of 16 December for applications, easing the peak season and getting more loans and allowances paid by orientation. That’s the bottom line for us – that this service works like it should so that students can begin their courses without worrying about whether they’re going to be able to pay rent that week.”
Other improvements included shorter call waiting times, pre-filled forms and digital document scanning – meaning that fewer documents are ‘misplaced’ during application processing.
NZUSA Executive Director Dr Alistair Shaw, who has led the project from the students’ side, says the union has enjoyed working with the Government department, recognising StudyLink’s commitment to hearing and heeding the student voice to make significant changes.
“We appreciate how well StudyLink have listened to us. They have been engaged and responsive, adapting their practices in light of the feedback from students which we’ve been able to provide.”
Mr McCourt says the partnership has improved the lives of students, with pre-filled forms saving them half an hour each alone.
“This is a great example of where the Government has been able to improve the lives of students, by working hand-in-hand with students themselves.”
“Undoubtedly StudyLink is a much better service than it was a couple of years ago and I’m proud we could be part of making that turnaround happen alongside the Government” Mr McCourt says.
Now that students have a much higher certainty of getting the income they’re entitled to, the union would increase its focus on arguing for livable incomes for students.