The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) have today announced plans to rally on Parliament and present their postgraduate student allowance petition.
The Postgraduate student allowance is a weekly stipend that assists Postgraduate students (those studying above a bachelor’s degree at either Universities or Polytechnics) to help cover living expenses whilst studying.
Postgraduate allowances were scrapped by the previous Government in 2013. Labour, along with the Greens and New Zealand First, pledged to restore the postgraduate allowance during the 2017 General Election.
“Restoring the postgraduate allowance isn't just good for students, it's good for the country. Across Aotearoa, postgraduate students are studying in fields that are crucial to our country's future – climate change, freshwater, poverty and mental health. The current government is committed to solving these issues, however in order for this work to succeed, we urgently need to be supporting and empowering our people to gain skills in these areas. A postgraduate student allowance is an easy step towards making this a reality” says NZUSA President James Ranstead.
NZUSA began a petition on the Postgraduate Student Allowance in early 2018, and have since collected thousands of signatures. They will present the petition on parliament lawn to Green MP Chlöe Swarbrick, and will later speak at select committee.
Student representatives from around the nation have been contacting NZUSA in the lead up to this event and sharing their thoughts.
The Otago University Postgraduate association said that “Postgraduate students are burdened with heavy workloads yet receive little financial support. Having to work twenty or more hours a week in a part-time job to make ends meet takes a strain on important research, research that ultimately provides benefit to society as a whole”.
Alongside the improvement of support for researchers in crucial fields and a government showing accountability, the restoration of the postgraduate student allowance will also make our higher education more fair.
‘Fairness is important to all of us. We need a fair and equitable student support system across all course types, from certificate level right through to a PhD. Education should be upheld as a way of reducing inequality, however the lack of a Postgraduate student allowance stifles student opportunity’ says Ranstead.
Individual students have also been reaching out on this topic -
‘I’m passionate about reducing New Zealand’s horrific suicide rate through studying towards a career in psychology. Unfortunately due to the lack of financial support at postgraduate level I’ve had to put that dream on hold’, says Nicole (Bachelor of Social Science in Psychology, University of Waikato).
Students will walk on Parliament on April 11th, between 12.30 – 2pm, on Thursday 11th April.
More detail can be found on the Facebook event page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/353577208701604/
The petition is found here: https://our.actionstation.org.nz/petitions/restore-the-postgraduate-student-allowance-now