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July 30, 2018 | by  | in News |
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Students Call for Higher Student Allowance

Student allowance went up by $50 per week at the beginning of the year. Many students say they are still struggling despite the increase.
Studylink does not account for regional rent prices or other factors such as the cost of transport, the level of financial support students receive from their parents, or the increases in electricity bills during the colder months
Chloe Davies, a fourth year law student at Victoria, criticized the student allowance for being assessed through a limited scope. “At the moment it’s all or nothing,” she said.
Brittany Florence-Bennett, a Masters of Science candidate in Ecology and Biodiversity told Salient that the $50 raise in allowance helped her and her friends. Prior to the increase, $170 allowance with $40 accommodation supplement only just covered the cost of her $200 a week rent. The increase allowed her to work less hours at her part-time job, however she still finds difficulty keeping up with the living costs of Wellington.
“This year I am working less because of the $50 increase with 10-15 hours a week, however I still have three part-time jobs and did work all summer to get some savings.”
“I definitely think increased rent/transport prices should be taken into account. I have a friend who went to Massey in Palmerston North who was only paying $75 rent a week, and who also had free busses to uni.”
Pam Thorburn, Director of Student Academic Services, said that the university saw more hardship applications in 2018 than in previous years. In the last twelve months, the committee received 359 applications, compared to 301 in 2017. The university noted that the rise could be “due to increased appointment availability” and “active promotion of the fund”.
When asked if the current levels of government support for students were adequate for students to support themselves week to week, Thorburn said that the student allowance isn’t intended to cover all weekly expenses and “students need to make up the difference as necessary”.
VUWSA president Marlon Drake said that the $50 increase was a really positive start to addressing the financial barriers to education. He said, “it is only a start to helping close a big gap, it still has made an impact on the lives of many of our students… I think the feedback [received by VUWSA] has been really positive and the fact is that students can access more money than they could previously. In my mind it’s a success but still it’s still a first step”.
“What we would really like to see is a Universal Student Allowance which is accessible for everyone, I think it’s just unacceptable for students to have to study full time and work stupid hours as well.”
When asked about if allowance should be scaled to factor in regional rent prices and transport costs, Drake said, “I’m unsure really about how it should be implemented but I’m definitely not opposed to looking at it geographically and seeing what makes most sense for Wellington, what makes most sense for the Auckland region, what makes most sense for Christchurch. But really the way we need to calculate it is how much is rent, how much is food, how much are your bills and that’s your allowance”.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said that “The Government is committed to addressing cost of living pressures in cities”. He said that “We have heard the concerns of students and their families who have told us cost is a real barrier to taking on tertiary study and training”.
When asked whether current rates of student allowance were adequate for students to support themselves, Hipkins said, “It’s certainly a big step towards making tertiary education and training more affordable”.

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