Ambulance at the Bottom of the Cliff for Students, But What Else?
While tertiary students across Aotearoa welcome today’s announcement of a $20 million increase in the Hardship Fund for Learners (HAFL) they say more needs to be done to prevent students falling into hardship in the first place.
“We’ve been warning for weeks that hardship funds across the tertiary sector are about to run dry, so it’s heartening to see the Minister of Education give them a significant boost. This $20 million will go a long way towards alleviating some of the more critical hardship currently experienced by students” says NZUSA National President Andrew Lessells.
An increase in the HAFL was one of three key asks of Government in the National Student Action Plan on COVID-19, designed by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, Te Mana Ākonga, Tauira Pasifika, the National Disabled Students Association and 45 other student organisations across Aotearoa.
However, the call in the Action Plan for a temporary Universal Education Income (UEI) has gone unanswered. “A UEI would ensure that all students have enough to live on regardless of how old they are or what they study. While an introduction of a universal allowance would be bold, students need bold action to survive. A revolutionary moment in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching. We’re disappointed that the Minister hasn’t recognised this” says Lessells.
NZUSA and student leaders across the country look forward to working with the Tertiary Education Commission on the distribution and criteria for the HAFL.