Holly Walker

Give postgrads a chance

by Holly Walker

The Otago Daily Times is today reporting figures from the Ministry of Education that show that, as a result of the Government’s cuts to student allowances, an extra 5140 student will be forced to borrow money through the student loan scheme for living costs – or be more reliant on borrowing than before.

On average, these postgraduate students will have to borrow an additional $4610.89 this year, in addition to what they have to borrow for fees.

Many of these students will be unable to survive on the amount that they can borrow alone, because this is lower than is available through allowances. Some students will be able to pick-up part-time work to help, but for many, the time commitments of their study means this isn’t an option and they’ll be left will little choice but to drop out.

Cutting student allowances to postgraduates was announced in Budget 2012 and came into effect this year. It means that all students studying towards a postgraduate diploma, Masters or PhD will not be able to receive a student allowance.

This is a short-sighted policy that flies in the face of Government plans to rein in student debt. The Ministry’s figures show that the changes to student allowances will add an extra $23.7 million on to the national student debt this year.

It will also act as a huge disincentive to students to undertake postgraduate-level study in New Zealand – driving many talented graduates overseas and worsening skill shortages in key areas.

Just in time for o-week, we’ve set up an online submission form to get people to email Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, as a way to share how this policy change is effecting them and calling on him to reinstate student allowances for postgraduates.

We’re also working on a Member’s bill to reverse this policy change and reinstate student allowances for postgraduate students.Take a minute to have your say and tell Steven Joyce what you think about this policy – submission form here.

Published in Economy, Work, & Welfare by Holly Walker on Thu, February 21st, 2013   

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