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April 30, 2012 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Students Still Povo

Government upholds time-honoured tradition.

To regurgitate that timeless student colloquialism “I’m an impoverished student” may have more meaning than we initially thought because it turns out—15 per cent of us really are.

The Baseline Report of the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ) released this month revealed that 15 per cent of the New Zealand university student population are suffering “absolute financial distress”.

The GLSNZ conducted baseline sampling of nearly 9,000 students in their final year across the eight New Zealand universities between July and December 2011. It will follow these graduates over the next ten years, principally to inform policy makers interested in the contribution tertiary education makes to the achieving national goals.

The study asked students about their financial situation and coded the results according to the “Economic Strain Model”. It found that as many as 1 in 6 students reported that they did not have enough money for their basic accommodation, clothing and food requirements.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Association (NZUSA) believes this finding confirms their own independent survey that demonstrates “widespread student poverty”. NZUSA Vice-President Arena Williams, exclaims “how are students meant to succeed in their studies if they don’t have the basic means to survive?”

Otago University Students Association president, Logan Edgar, cites some of the many financial problems students face, including the “huge costs” of setting up flats at the start of the year with the payment of bond money and buying furniture.

NZUSA believe the findings show an overwhelming need for a lift in allowance rates or, at the very least, an increase in how much students can borrow for living expenses. The current maximum student allowance entitlement per week is $170.80. Those ineligible, or who get a partial allowance, can borrow through the Student Loans Scheme up to $172.51 per week.

“$170 a week isn’t a living allowance. Even when students are really struggling, their parents aren’t in a position to support them. The assumption that all students under 24 have parental support is ludicrous”, said Arena Williams.

The GLSNZ was commissioned by Universities New Zealand and was carried out by the National Centre for Lifecourse Research, headquartered at the University


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