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July 28, 2008 | by  | in Opinion | [ssba]

President’s Column

Student debt is an issue. I’ve sat down at Student Hardship meetings and gone over the details of a lot of students (around 1000 off the top of my head, last year) who are in what I’d describe as pretty extreme situations, financially and/or emotionally. I’ve talked with people living in vans because of a lack of money to afford a place to rent. But I know that my personal experiences only provide a context to make judgements on. An important piece of research that NZUSA (New Zealand Union of Students Associations) conducts is the Income and Expenditure survey. This survey had 3793 targeted students around the country respond back (they don’t all come from Massey Wellington). NZUSA make sure this is undertaken every 3 years since the early 90’s, because in talking about the issue of student debt we need a bit more data than just the (very) opinionated views of both those for and against the current status quo.

This is why I’m so surprised at the response from Salient Editor Tristan Egarr. He mistakes the Fee Maxima, which is the maximum cap that degrees can be charged i.e. $6000 for a humanities degree and the Annual Fee Movement Limit (AFML) which is the maximum percentage up to the Fee Maxima that fees can be increase. Labour increased the value of the Fee Maxima by 2.4%, yet VUW is not at that point and has free reign to increase our fees by 5%. Tristan fails to mention this. Unlike Tristan I don’t think that a median $23,025 student loan at the end of a three-year degree is an acceptable, enforced part of a tertiary education. I don’t think we should be footed with a bill for 25% at the end. There are smarter ways to do this, the ideas of bonding etc. and of those 3793 students 63% felt that student loans impacted on their decision to bugger off overseas, that smells like failure to me.

See I think it’s important to get some student data on this. I have my feelings/opinions and they’re relatively informed ones at that. But 3793 students count for more. They count for more than Tristan’s feelings too.

Tristan tells us through his editorial about how cheap he can live. I’ll admit here, I have a flat that costs me under $100 to rent each week. The average cost of renting in Wellington is around $130- $140, I know my situation is unusual from data collected on this and I appreciate that, otherwise I could quite think that everyone lived like me.

Tristan thinks that $38 a week in transport costs is a uncorrect. Is he saying those 3793 people lied? That they made it up? With public transport from say the Hutt Valley/Strathmoore or Auckland a mess I think Tristan is talking out his arse. I preside over student carparks and go over people’s reasons for applying for one. There are parents. There are people without access to a reliable bus route. With rents increasing, more and more people are heading out to the burbs and while the costs decrease, transport still costs, and with petrol rising another 6 cents, that’s only going to add to it. Now just because neither Tristan or I don’t have to drive or spend two to fours hours to get to and from university doesn’t mean it’s not an issue. Just because it’s not necessarily under our noses doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. The world isn’t that Po-Mo yet. So on the issue of bills. Tristan thinks that $47 a week is unrealistic. Well does the man pay for power, phone, internet, appliance rental, insurance on a weekly basis? It all adds up… I don’t know about him, but right now there hasn’t been sun on my backyard in the Aro for months, I scab my girlfriends drier (the flat knows I love em’).

Tristan doesn’t think that $73 a week is realistic a week to spend on food. He might have survived on just baked beans, but there was an outbreak of tuberculosis in Otago a few years ago. TB is a poverty disease. That is why it’s so unusual to appear in New Zealand, as we don’t have poverty do we? We’re not poor? According to Tristan we aren’t. The macho attitude of surviving on fuck all and forcing everyone else to cannot be a good thing.

Tristan claims that surveying 500 odd students isn’t an accurate reflection of average students around the country. That could be true, but it doesn’t matter. I’m talking about 3793 students. Is that not enough?

Tristan. I love having a good argument with you. When you were writing your editorial why didn’t you double check your facts? I’ve got the I&E survey in front of me. Let’s get some facts flowing.


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Comments (4)

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  1. Gibbon says:

    god you’re a fucking whiny prat cosgrove

  2. Mr Magoo says:

    Joel Cosgrove seems like the kind of person who has skiddy undies

  3. Boring! says:

    You’re such a little bitch Cosgrove. What are you 12?

  4. Gibbon says:

    Hey Joel, where’s this week’s column OH RIGHT IT WAS A PIECE OF SHIT

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