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April 9, 2008 | by  | in Online Only |
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Piss off Pete

This afternoon, the Minister for Tertiary Education came out saying that the “individual student lot continues to improve.” Good one Pete.

Mr. Hodgson claims that Labour has been the shining light for students, and when it rode into power in 1999 things started to get better, and Labour did this by:

– abolishing interest on all student loans to stop debts escalating.

– capping tuition fees.

– increasing the parental income threshold for allowances so that over half of eligible students now receive a non-repayable allowance.

Sorry to be the one to point this out Mr. Hodgson, you did not cap tuition fees, for the past three years I have been at Victoria my fees have gone up almost 5% per year, which is more than the rate of inflation, and definitely more than the amount living costs have gone up in the ten years Labour has been in power.

Also removing the interest has probably helped students, after they’ve stopped studying. It does not help me, in my fourth year of university, doing my honours year, right now. Because my parents earn slightly too much for me to qualify for the Student Allowance (even after you increased the threshold), I am shit out of luck. I rely on the Foodbank run by VUWSA, and have dipped into over-draught (which co-incidentally is also interest free till I stop being a student and then the interest skyrockets to over 15%), and some of my friends have had to take personal loans to cover the bare necessities of living whilst being a student.

Increasing the parental income threshold has not helped me at all, it does however help the people whose parents earn just a bit more than mine, and who can afford trusts and who own businesses, to slyly stash it away. I have a friend whose parents own a business, she gets weekly pay cheques of just under the allowable limit, they gave her a laptop, paid in part for her rent, etc etc, but she somehow was still eligible for the full amount of the allowance. Most of us have a friend like that.

Even though student allowances have gone up $5, rents in Wellington have risen about 10%, leaving a lot of students with negative dollars to spend. Studylink is a bitch too, this weeks letter to the editor really takes the cake for SL’s buffoonery.

Pete, resorting to a “Things were much worse back in the day” argument to counter student debt reaching $10 billion dollars does nothing. It does nothing to help us students put food on the table, pay rent or heat ourselves when winter starts to set in.

What you need to do, and what would endear students to Labour, would be to listen to the Greens, you did it on the minimum wage, so why not here?

Abolishing interest on student debt is not going to make us pay it back. There need to be incentives to do so.

If you’re going to cap tuition fees, you should put in a clause saying they can rise 5% each year, and in some cases more if the university feels cheeky enough to challenge the maxima scheme.

Provide a universal student allowance, or at least widen the limits so that even more students can take advantage of it.

The reason why students do not come to your electorate office is that they cannot afford the time too. Having to study, attend classes, work almost fulltime, and chase up Studylink does not leave us much time to come crying to you.

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The editor of this fine rag for 2009.

Comments (7)

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  1. Robert says:

    “What you need to do, and what would endear students to Labour, would be to listen to the Greens, you did it on the minimum wage, so why not here?”

    Shouldn’t Labour be listening to NZ First, which also promotes a universal student allowance system, Jackson? How about the Alliance too? Or is this entry just a shameful promotion of the Green Party?

  2. peteremcc says:

    Why should nurses and teachers and truck drivers pay for us to come to university, get an education and earn lots of money.

    Shouldn’t all that money be going to help out the people who don’t make it to university Jackson?

  3. Jackson Wood says:

    Shut up Rob, but we you are right, in this case, however it would be nice if you took your tongue out of your bosses anus.

    Petermcc, nurses, teachers, (not so sure about truck drivers) and many professions that do not require people to go to university (which the first two that you mentioned do), still require education of some sort, at a tertiary level. Attending polytechs, and other places of learning still qualifies you to get student allowance/loan. People who work in jobs who don’t require education of any sort, need help too.

    I’m not saying that the system is right, and I know the system you and the ACT party would like to see. But we’ve had a Labour Govt, for 9 years, who are now claiming they’ve done 1 thing a term for students. Two of those things haven’t helped the majority of students while they are students. The keep claiming to have capped fees, they haven’t. Labour have only capped how much fees can rise. Labour shouldn’t be trying to pass this off as some lame self defence, the day before they know they’re going to get bad publicity for student debt reaching $10 billion.

  4. Fucking A. Labour’s claims to have made it easier for students are about the most absurd statements coming out of the mouths of politicians this year (slightly behind the whole “graffiti is a serious crime” thing). Since 1998, student debt has risen 147%. Doesn’t look like a situation under control to me…

    Average student debt is now $28,838. If you don’t want money to stand in the way of yer education, you just have to pretend your loan doesn’t exist, and accept that going to uni means being in a higher tax bracket for the rest of yer life due to repayments.

    Finally, only 37% of students receive an allowance of $70 or more a week. As Critic’s editorial put it this week, the fact that a 25-year-old first year will get a full allowance, but a 24-year-old PhD student has to be means tested against their parents, is fucking absurd.

    I don’t believe in free education, and I suspect Jackson doesn’t either. However, as he says, we need a universal student allowance. Studying properly i.e. attempting to get As and actually do some research, is a full time job. It’s time we treated it as one. Perhaps allowances could be tested against academic achievement?

  5. Sarita says:

    The whole parental-income thing REALLY pisses me off.

    I mean, on one hand, I get that no one really wants to give the allowance to anyone who has loaded parents and a cushy lifestyle. But then again, I have a couple friends who are… rather financially-gifted, but they don’t want to scab their parents’ money. One’s actually especially determined to make it on her own. Kind of similar to the Lorelai Gilimore thing, but without the complete estrangement and getting knocked-up at sixteen bits.

    And on the OTHER hand, it’s just damn annoying. My parents are above the income threshold thing, so no allowance for me.
    Okay, so I’m probably not in as bad as a situation as a lot of other people, seeing as I’m living at home at the moment, but it’s really not a long-term plan – and I’m hoping it’s not going to be too much of a somewhat-more-than-short-term plan either. But for now, I don’t have to struggle to pay rent, and I feel really… kinda like guilty, and definitely somehow smaller than everyone else for taking the ‘easy way’.
    And just ’cause I live at home doesn’t mean I’m not (trying to) pitch in with bills. But hell, if I only study part-time, I’ll be here for bloody AGES.

    AND ALSO, the fact that I only live with my mum, and that my father’s income doesn’t affect us in the slightest, should mean SOMETHING to bloody Studylink. But since we’re still in contact with him – and he isn’t in jail, and I lack awesome psychic powers (so he’s not dead) – it doesn’t. Not even SLIGHTLY.

    Either way, we shouldn’t have to be judged completely by what our parents’ jobs and incomes are. Just ’cause my mum’s reasonably well-off doesn’t mean she’s buying me a laptop. In fact, I got mine from my aunt, and only ’cause she was gonna chuck it out to get a better one (but it was still pretty good, so it was her two years worth of birthday/Christmas presents to me, as well as a celebratory going to uni thing). And ’cause it’s from overseas, I’m screwed if it ever breaks down, and I don’t know how the hell to install the internet on it, so I’m still using the Vic computers anyway!

    Hell, sometimes I just wish EVERYTHING was free. Of course, I know that’d probably fuck stuff up even more, but still.
    A Homer Simpson quote comes to mind: “Alcohol – the solution to, and source of, all of life’s little problems.” So, what he said, except with money.
    But possibly still with alcohol.

    /pointless rambling.

    Also: People pay taxes that go to the dole, and that doesn’t mean that they all get the benefit of it themselves. Universal university allowance would be based on the same sort of idea.

  6. Sarita says:

    Oh shit, that was longer than I thought it was.

  7. Robert says:

    jackson, it would also be nice if you took your tongue out of your bosses anus too.

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