Steven Shifts Support Away From Students
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Steven Shifts Support Away
Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association
Yesterday's budget offered no help to students struggling with increased fees, living costs, and debt, says Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association President Sonya Clark.
“Funding and accessibility for student support has been cut over the past five years, with the loan repayment threshold frozen and eligibility for allowances restricted. While students continue to suffer, Minister Joyce boasts about how these cuts have achieved a $71.6m saving.”
“By not adjusting the repayment threshold on student loans to be in line with inflation, the Government has made already poor graduates comparatively poorer. High repayment rates for graduates on low incomes means many students will struggle to get ahead in the crucial early years of their working life.”
The cuts to loans and allowances have been reflected in a drop in enrolments which further compounds costs to students as tertiary institutions are forced to raise fees.
Since 2009 the repayment threshold in New Zealand has remained frozen at $19,084, with a flat repayment rate of 12%. Over the ditch, Australia’s recent budget set the threshold at $53,345 with a progressive repayment rate that starts at only 4.0% and provides bonuses for voluntary payment.
“By freezing repayment thresholds and maintaining a high repayment rate, Joyce is giving graduates one of the highest effective tax rate of New Zealanders,” says Ms Clark.
Joyce has shifted these savings directly towards funding for his favoured ‘STEM’ subjects. However VUWSA believes that this won’t be reflected in a drop in fees for students. “The investment in STEM subjects is not enough to reduce the cost to students. We expect that Victoria will be forced to put through a 4% fee rise to compensate for continued under funding from the Government.”
"While this year's Budget doesn't appear to have any major hits to access to Student Support, the cumulative effects of the last four budgets have seriously hurt the ability of New Zealand students to access a tertiary education. An educated population, as Joyce notes, is so crucial to improving this country. The Minister's actions contradict his very words."
Timeline of Major Cuts to Access:
Student loan repayment threshold remains frozen, increasing repayments obligations.
Ability for students over 40 to upskill or re-train is restricted, by slashing their access to Student Allowance from 200 to 120 weeks
Student Allowances for Postgraduate students cut.
Parental income limit frozen. No longer adjusts with inflation, making fewer students eligible.
Repayment rate increases from 10% to 12% and repayment threshold frozen.
Students aged over 55’s eligibility for loans for living costs or course-related costs removed.
Part-time full-year students’ eligibility for course-related costs removed.
7-EFTS life-time limit introduced to borrowing entitlement.
A comprehensive list of cuts to student support can be found on http://www.students.org.nz/studentsupportcuts