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40 per cent of full-time university students are feeling stressed about their financial well being, according to a recent survey from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
Many of those polled said that they feel they did not have enough money for their basic needs, let alone enough to spend on social or academic obligations.
The maximum students can receive from Studylink is $215 per week. When asked if it was possible to survive on the allowance payment alone, one student, receiving $175 a week, responded, “no f***ing way could a person survive off the measly amount they give. I mean, it goes a long way, but a job is essential”.
The weekly allowance payment is determined by a student’s income, their parents’ income, and whether or not the student is living with their parents.
According to NZUSA President Rory McCourt, the “survey shows an increasing number of students are struggling with bills, debt and stress. We have serious concerns that without a change in policy settings tertiary education will be an opportunity only for the rich.”
“Our students and their families cannot sustain this cost of living, and it’s taking a toll—credit card and other toxic debt is on the rise. The Government must take major action to prevent an explosion of inequality in tertiary education,” McCourt says.
Ironically, the survey results came only one week before a recent Stuff article admonished students for spending their cost-related costs on “strippers, alcohol and Taylor Swift tickets”.
McCourt, along with ten other student association presidents, publicly condemned the article. “It generalises from anecdote the experiences of all students, which is lazy journalism and in this instance just wrong,” McCourt said.
Students have also taken to Facebook to discuss their use of course-related which included textbooks, contact lenses and laptops.
VUWSA President Rick Zwaan pointed out that the amount of cost-related costs given to students (read: added to their loans) hasn’t changed since 1993.
Last year $120.3m in course-related costs was given to students around New Zealand.