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August 7, 2017 | by  | in News | [ssba]

The United Future Tuition Trade Off

On July 30, United Future released their policy promise of free tuition for all tertiary students. This policy seeks to “improve access” to students of low income households in New Zealand.

However, in order to fund the policy, United Future have also committed to removing the Student Allowance and Accommodation Benefit.

NZUSA President Jonathan Gee believes that compromising on student allowances would see many students finding it almost impossible to continue their studies.

Gee stated that although “increasing access to tertiary education and transforming the lives of communities should be at the top of the government’s list, […] this trade-off does not make it happen.”

Under the Student Allowance scheme, full time domestic students who are younger than 24 and are living away from home, and who meet the financial criteria, are currently eligible for a maximum of $177.03 per week after tax. Those students are also eligible for an Accommodation Benefit of up to $40 per week. United Future’s policy would see all students borrowing for living costs, regardless of their parents’, or their own, financial position.

The policy also proposes an increase in the amount borrowable under the Student Loan scheme, relative to average rent prices in each region.

Gee argued that, rather than tying student loan borrowing to the cost of living, the cost of living itself must be addressed. If not, the situation would result in “spiralling and unmanageable debt.”

VUWSA President Rory Lenihan-Ikin agreed with Gee. “Most students know what makes up the highest proportion of their student loan each year is borrowed living costs… Those living in high cost areas like Wellington and Auckland will end up with a higher average student loan, which isn’t equitable either.”

“Any other New Zealander gets support from the government, why should that be different when you become a student?”


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