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Fees Freeze and So Do Student Allowances

The University of Canterbury Students’ Association (UCSA) launched its debt clock today in protest at student debt rising from $3 billion to $5 billion during the Labour government’s term.

The grave problem of spiraling student debt has been only lightly touched by today’s budget, says UCSA president Richard Neal.

The Government announced today there would be a funding offer of 4.5 percent for 2003 in exchange for a fee freeze, but did not address other urgent problems, such as the issue of student support.

“Overall, students will be relieved as it is unlikely that Canterbury will raise its fees next year”, said Mr Neal. “But student allowances were not addressed in this year’s budget, and students are beginning to wonder if the Government is serious about solving the student debt problem.” The greater problem of student debt and how this could be alleviated was unanswered for the third year in a row, he said.

The debt clock ticks over at $11 per second, $664 per minute and $40,000 dollars per hour and is housed in the UCSA main café. “Labour promised in 1999 that it would under-promise so it could over-deliver, and students expect movement on student allowances,” said Neal.

“When Labour came into power, student debt was at $3 billion dollars. Now it is at $5 billion. Labour needs to move faster to be assured of gaining the student vote. Institutions have done well with approximately 10 percent increased funding over three years and it was a step toward preserving quality of education at universities throughout the country.”


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