The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) believes that Budget 2021 is a missed opportunity to support all students in Aotearoa. The reintroduction of the Training Incentive Allowance will aid 16,000 students who have, historically, been failed. However, NZUSA National President Andrew Lessells says that many have missed out as “postgrad and mature students are still expected to live on food parcels”.
While the Student Allowance will increase by $25 in 2022, this does not keep track with main benefit increases. Lessells says “students facing hardship have yet again been forgotten. Students deserve better than being treated as second class citizens forced to borrow to survive”.
The increase in Vocational Education funding is welcomed and could revolutionise the sector. NZUSA has fought hard with the Tertiary Education Union (TEU) to ensure that there is enough funding to make the Reform of Vocational Education a success. But it is bittersweet that Universities under real financial pressure see no real increases.
“Universities are having the biggest growth in a generation, but funding simply doesn’t reflect this. Staff in the sector are overworked and burning out in droves. They need real wage increases and more support from Government which is completely missing” says TEU National President Tina Smith.
The extension of the COVID-19 Learner Hardship Fund (HAFL) is promising, however $5.8 million is a drop in the ocean for students struggling to keep their heads above water. “We’re extremely disappointed that there is no significant funding to student wellbeing, given the Governments’ commitment to the Code of Learner Wellbeing and Safety which will place real costs and pressure on staff and students in the sector” says Lessells.
Overall Budget 2021 is a win for the sector, but students expected and deserve far more. They deserve to be able to afford to live.