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New Zealand Union Of Students’ Associations Impact Of Covid-19 On Tertiary Students’ Research

A new study exposes the impact of Covid-19 on the wellbeing, financial situation, and educational experience of students at tertiary institutions in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Increased anxiety about the future, exacerbated stress levels about studying, and nervousness about the impact on weekly expenses and student debt have been identified as the major impacts of Covid-19 on tertiary students, in a new study released today by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).

The ‘Covid-19 and Tertiary Students’ Report surveyed over 400 students on the impact of Covid-19 on their lives as students. The study includes the voice of learners in universities, polytechnics and private training establishments, who are studying at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. The study includes domestic and international students.

“’Covid-19 and Tertiary Students’ exposes the poverty that students experienced during the Covid-19 lockdown. The fact that 30% of students said they required greater assistance to cover both accommodation costs and food costs during the lockdown signifies that students were in a vulnerable position during the lockdown” says National President Isabella Lenihan-Ikin. “The lack of support for students was also indicative in the findings that 66% of students believe Covid-19 has significantly increased their stress levels or anxiety about money, accommodation, or study”, she says.

Over one month, 421 students responded to the survey. The questions covered the financial impacts of Covid-19, the actions of tertiary institutions and the use of government support for weekly expenses including accommodation, food and study.

Report author Joshua James says "this report identifies areas that need urgent attention by the government. Not only are many students feeling less optimistic about the future, many are struggling with expenses at a higher rate than they were pre-Covid. Any elected official who were to read the many comments provided in the survey should be moved to action.”

On student accommodation costs, one respondent said "It’s hard to pay rent while I can’t work and can’t live there [during levels 3 and 4]. Considering going to Instant Finance to get a loan to cover the rent, despite the high interest rates I would be stuck with on that loan.”

“The results of the survey reveal the need for the government to invest in the Universal Education Income / Te Rourou Matanui-a-Wananga (UEI), which would afford students the ability to live in dignity and not be forced to borrow to live”, Lenihan-Ikin says. “With 87% of students supporting a UEI, there is a strong mandate for the government to act in a transformative way in the wake of Covid-19.”

Urgent action is required to address the issues that tertiary students face.

The report can be accessed here.

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