Holly Walker
Postgrad allowance cuts have not affected student numbers – yeah right

So Steven Joyce believes his decision to remove access to student allowances for postgraduate students has had no effect on the numbers studying. Really?

Appearing before a select committee yesterday, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said that this cut had made very little difference in university enrolment numbers around the country.

The issue is that we’ve got numbers that say the opposite.

When the Government first announced this policy, I was pretty sure this would result in a decline in student numbers as I knew there’d be many who wouldn’t be in the financial position to study at postgraduate level without access to an allowance, so I asked for enrolment figures from all eight universities.

All but one University showed a decline in postgraduate enrolments, which was against a general trend for these to increase each year before the policy was introduced. For example, Otago University has experienced a decline of 8.5% and Auckland University postgraduate enrolment numbers are down by 7.1%.

Removing postgraduate allowances shows the Government’s disregard for higher education. National is wasting the potential of some of the best and brightest people in New Zealand by limiting higher education to just those who can afford it. It’s clear how strongly people feel about this – when we launched an online submission to Steven Joyce asking him to reinstate postgraduate allowances, it was signed by over a thousand people in just a few days.

It’s shortsighted, and wrong, and for that reason I’ve drafted a member’s bill that would reinstate eligibility for student allowances to postgraduate students. It’s called the Education (Student Allowances Eligibility) Amendment Bill and it’s currently in the ballot.

I’m hoping that the bill will get pulled so that Parliament has the chance to debate this policy in full now that that evidence of the effect that it is having on postgraduate numbers is confirming just how harmful it will be.

8 thoughts on “Postgrad allowance cuts have not affected student numbers – yeah right

  1. So many cuts here and there needed to subsidize big (foreign) businesses, fill the gap caused by tax cut for riches, fixing NOVApay plus many other huge money wasted policies…

    Money has to come from somewhere, right? Let’s wait and see, further cuts will happen…

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  2. Otago international students are also down by the same amount, despite not being affected by this.

    Some of lower NZ student numbers is attributable to 38,000 new jobs in the last quarter, with unemployment for 20-24 year-olds dropping hugely (down 4% in just one quarter).

    And taxpayers spending on student allowances has gone up from $385m to $620m in just three years, during a recession, so it’s not as if the govt and taxpayers are spending much less than the previous govt – in fact just the opposite – we’re spending hundreds of millions more.

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  3. Education is really taking a slap in the face with all of these budget cuts. No wonder why Europe and China are going to be a reckoning force in the coming years.

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  4. The topic is post graduate student numbers.

    PS Of course there are more students in study during a recession – thus higher allowance cost. The government spends more on unemployment benefit during a recession too. A lower level of 20-24 year olds unemployed is not evidence that more have jobs (some could have moved to Oz etc).

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  5. That there is an increase in total student numbers yet fewer post graduate students demonstrates there has been an impact from the end to post graduate student allowances.

    The post graduate student numbers will only further decline as those already in post graduate study complete their course.

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  6. Photonz there are more unemployed during recessions and some of them choose to study – increasing total student numbers. Thus is why student allowance cost/spending goes up at such times (but otherwise the people would be on UB so it is not an actual increase in total spending just a a switch from UB).

    The higher spending is not a sign of government largesse but of a lack of jobs.

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  7. photonz, the number of 20-24 year olds unemployed falls each year when students go back to university.

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  8. SPC says “A lower level of 20-24 year olds unemployed is not evidence that more have jobs”

    It is when Stats NZ says “The employment rate for 20–24-year-olds rose over the year to March 2013″

    “In the year to March 2013, there was a large fall in unemployment for people aged 15–24 years (down 10,500). This fall can be largely attributed to a decrease in unemployed 20–24-year-olds (down 11,200). This was an atypical fall in unemployment, as the number of people unemployed for this age group usually increases during March quarters. The unemployment rate for people aged 20–24 years fell 4.1 percentage points to 10.9 percent – the lowest rate since the September 2009 quarter. “

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