Tertiary education students struggling to afford basic needs, says report



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A new report shows that tertiary education students are struggling to afford their basic needs, including affordable accommodation. It also shows that students from private and higher decile schools are more likely to attend tertiary education than other students.

The Income and Expenditure Report 2017 by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has found that average rents in Auckland have increased by almost $75 per week in the last five years, from $175 to $250 for a room in a three bedroom house. It has also found that a third of students do not have enough income to afford their basic needs.

"The $217.03 Student Allowance and Accommodation Benefit provides little relief when students are paying $250 per week on rent alone," says National Student President Jonathan Gee.

Gee says that student hardship has grown considerably worse since 2011.

"That year, the Government froze the parental income threshold for eligibility, a significant factor in locking out 24,000 students from having access to the Student Allowance," he says. "Today, only a third of full-time students receive the Student Allowance. The rest borrow week to week in order to live and add to the national student loan balance of over $15 billion."

Gee says it's no wonder why repayment times are increasing as graduates begin their careers with unmanageable debt.

"It’s time for the Government to unfreeze the parental income threshold for eligibility, and raise the Student Allowance."

The report has also found that two-thirds of decile 8-10 students who achieve University Entrance end up attending degree-level study, compared to just a third of those from decile 1-3 schools. Students from private schools are three times more likely to attend tertiary education than the rest of the population.

"Tertiary education should represent the make-up of the general population. Unfortunately the cost of education, coupled with limited student support, makes this education simply a dream for many," says Gee.

The NZUSA is calling for the Government to introduce a national ‘first in family’ scholarship, to help break the poverty cycle and improve opportunity for all.

The Income and Expenditure report can be found here.




Key findings of the report:

  • Access to tertiary education is dropping, especially for our poorest families
  • Student housing costs have increased significantly, especially Auckland where the average rent price is $250 per week per room in a three bedroom house
  • A third of students do not have enough income to meet their basic needs
  • Repayment times for student debt is  increasing
  • 78% of students believe their student debt will have a significant impact on their ability to save for their retirement

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