Students reveal the negative impacts postgraduate cuts are having

Last month I posted about the damaging impact the cuts to postgraduate student allowances could have on the future psychology workforce in New Zealand. Steven Joyce, the Minister for Tertiary Education, claims this is not an issue because students can borrow living costs and therefore don’t need an allowance.

However, this does not tally with what I have been hearing from students. My office has received many accounts from psychology students about how difficult the cuts have made it to undertake their postgraduate study.

Below we have one psychology student’s anonymous account of how the changes to postgraduate allowances have affected them.

My story starts back when the allowance for post-graduate study was abolished. Initially it was my intention to return to full-time study to complete a post-graduate diploma (Psychology) and Masters, then an internship year so that I could begin working as a registered child & adolescent psychologist. Unfortunately the changes meant that I had to continue working and study part-time. If the National government had not made these changes it is most likely that I would already be working as a registered child & adolescent psychologist, helping the youth of today.

I now have 2 papers left to complete my PGDip and I have received 3 letters from studylink declining my application for fees only loan. I pay for my own text books, as well as accommodation and travel costs for the block courses. I take annual leave to attend the block courses also.

So now I am working with studylink to try find a way to get a loan to fund my final 2 papers, and it is a really frustrating and upsetting process.

It has also come to my attention that friends of mine have been in similar situations, their advice is to take extra papers so that studylink will approve their loan. This is silly because both studylink and students have a similar agenda – to keep student loans to a minimum and get educated people out working in needed professions.

Fee only loans for post-graduate study should be approved, and students should definitely not have to take extra papers just to get approval!

I have since received a 4th declined letter before I ended up changing my papers so that I was doing one paper in each semester (instead of 2 in the first semester only). I think that the recent changes that have been made to studylink are ridiculous and it is having a negative impact on the lives of many students and members of the community who are subsequently unable to receive the support they need.

1 Comment Posted

  1. The detail of skills that a well trained and experienced new graduate has in the field of Psychology, Clinical Psychology are skills that are needed in many individual’s scenarios that run through the motu. However the salaries and hourly rates at which these are available pretty much (with the odd exception) mean that they cannot spend the time and rescources involved with the person as is actually required to advance their cause significantly. In my case I would definitely be referring here to persons with ‘learning and developmental’ delays and particularly people who lack the experiences and skills, as well as a current will to access their community with dignity and safety. On that basis if the student is studying e.g. psychology with an eye on a career in a highly salaried profession then in today’s climate; paying for the priviledge seems reasonable (through loans etc). On the other hand if the psychologist wishes to commit to a more intensively people centred long term commitment (with the lower pay that this would necessarily attach) …. then offer them allowances a grant for sure. They would of course need to start paying the grant or allowance back should they move to a job in the ‘restricted public access’ environment offering a higher salary.

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