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Students reel at budget cuts to allowances, loans

25 May 2012

Students reel at budget cuts to allowances, loans

Students are reeling after yesterday’s Budget announcements, which included the news that student allowances will be stopped for postgraduate students, with the exception of Bachelors with Honours study. The news follows the confirmation that the Government will restrict all allowances to 200 weeks and a rise in the student loan repayment rate from 10% to 12% (an increase of 20%).

Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association (VUWSA) President Bridie Hood said the changes will send a strong signal to students and graduates that they have no future in New Zealand. Ms Hood warned that unless the Government did something to keep graduates here, the flow offshore would only grow larger.

“National promised in 2008 to stop the bleed of New Zealand’s brightest to Australia. The opposite has happened, and we are haemorrhaging, with comparable study fees and higher wages in Australia, our talent is seeking a brighter future offshore. When students add up a dire job market with the Government’s plans to burden them with even more debt; no wonder they’re choosing Wollongong over Wellington,” said Ms Hood.

Earlier in the day a student protest was held to highlight growing concerns that the Government’s changes to loans and allowances will make it harder for students and graduates to study and work in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

When Ms Hood addressed the crowd who gathered at Parliament, she said that weak economic conditions shouldn’t be used as an excuse to drive students into poverty or to deny people the opportunity of public education.

“Why should students have to disproportionately bear the brunt of the current economic climate when they are essential to helping us emerge from it stronger? As a nation we should view the tax payer investment in students as an investment in our future.”

“To ensure that New Zealand has a prosperous, high skilled economy in the future, we need to support students today, and this Budget sends us in the wrong direction,” said Ms Hood.

ENDS

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