National pushing students further into debt and distress

Tertiary students have become significantly more financially distressed since National took office, according to the NZUSA Income & Expenditure Survey out today.

The survey shows that almost half (44 percent) of all tertiary students report that that they do not have enough income to meet their basic needs. This results in higher levels of student debt, higher levels of credit card debt, and longer working hours outside of full-time study. Despite the increased need, Government support for students through student allowances has actually fallen.

“There’s never been a harder time to be a student,” said Green Party tertiary education spokesperson Gareth Hughes.

“National has consistently made life harder for students, meaning fewer people are now entering tertiary study. Those who do, are doing it with higher levels of financial stress.

“Capping housing support for students at $40 per week is deeply unfair when compared to other beneficiaries whose housing support is indexed to the actual cost of living in our main cities.

“Nearly half of all students study in Auckland and face the highest average rents in the country at $218 per week. Housing support for students is capped at $40 per week whereas beneficiaries living in central Auckland can receive up to $145 per week.

“This is a deeply unfair situation.

“Paying for accommodation is the biggest cost students face. The Government can therefore help students the most by reviewing the housing support students receive in light of rising rents.

“We’d also help lower the transport costs of students choosing to live further away from campus in search of lower rents. Our Student Green Card would offer students free off-peak travel on buses, trains, and ferries, and cost $20-$30 million per year.

“The Greens in Government would make this a priority for supporting students.

“National’s short-sighted cost-cutting measures are hurting students and undermining New Zealand’s longer-term competitive advantage in having a highly skilled, educated, and happy workforce,” said Mr Hughes.


Link to NZUSA report: