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March 4, 2013 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Hardship Floats

Students’ Bank Balances Sink

Students have been feeling the economic pinch already this year, with student hardship services being used in increasing numbers.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that more and more students are feeling financial pressure, VUWSA Vice-President (Welfare) Simon Tapp told Salient.

“What we’re hearing … is that students are finding this year hard. We’ve heard of students slumming it in night shelters, and we’re expecting more horror stories.”

Student hardship services are designed to help those who are struggling to meet living costs. VUWSA offers a number of hardship services, including budgeting advice, counselling support, bus passes, advocacy services, free bread, the community pantry/food bank, and the hardship fund to which students can apply for money.

Tapp believes the current welfare situation is unlikely to improve.

“Legislative, economic and social conditions are worse now for students than they have been in a long time, so I’m not expecting decreased usage of VUWSAs welfare assistance this year.”

Geordie Cassin, the manager of service support for Studylink, believes this is the result of several economic trends, including the fact that as the workforce brings in less income they are more unable to support their children. Students are unwilling to let their parents support them when they know the situation is tenuous.

Student hardship services are of most use to students with unplanned costs, as well as those struggling to find work that pays enough to cover the cost of living.

Salient spoke to one student who was quoted $1064 for a dental procedure, and was forced to go to the Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship committee.

“I had a meeting with a lady who heard my situation … and told me the committee would email me with a response the next day. She was very nice and empathetic.”

This example is part of a continuing trend for students, which has seen the high cost of living

forcing students to resort to desperate measures such as the Wellington Night Shelter, or extended couch surfing as mentioned in last week’s Salient.

In 2011 Wellington was ranked as the 17th most expensive city to live in by The Economist and the cost of living had risen since then.


Miranda McGregor




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