The National Government’s 2017 budget has ignored close to 70 per cent of New Zealand’s tertiary student population.
From April 1, 2018, the Government has announced an increase to the Accommodation Benefit of up to $20 a week, “to better reflect the cost of housing for students”.
What they haven’t said, is that this benefit is only available to the 33 per cent of students who qualify for a Student Allowance.
Parental income determines if students are able to get Student Allowance, and that threshold has not changed since 2012.
Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association President Rory Lenihan-Ikin says while it’s called an increase, the majority of students will be left to struggle.
“There is roughly 400,000 tertiary students in New Zealand and this so-called budget ‘increase’ is set to benefit 41,000. The Government should not expect students to see this as a win.”
Wellington tertiary students are already feeling the pinch of increasing rental prices, but this budget essentially tells them if they have two parents who collectively earn more than $91,850.41 before tax, the Government can’t do anything to help, Lenihan-Ikin says.
“The issues we are already seeing in Auckland are quickly making their way down to Wellington and more and more you will students struggling to live, let alone study and qualify for jobs, if more isn’t done soon.”
VUWSA supports the NZ Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) call for a housing grant for all tertiary students - because the majority of students are struggling under the weight of rising living costs in university cities, he says.
“How bad does it have to get before Government realises forcing students to live in poverty is not the way to grow the future workforce of New Zealand?”