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August 11, 2008 | by  | in News |
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Mo’ money, no problems – report links academic success to student allowances

Ministry of Education report has found that students with government allowances are up to four times more likely to complete their qualification than those without financial assistance, leading to calls from the New Zealand Union of Student Association (NZUSA) for the introduction of a universal student allowance.

According to the report, based on the qualification completion rates of students who entered tertiary study between 1999 and 2001, whether a student received financial aid had a significantly positive impact on their rate of completion.

Students who received a student allowance and no loan were twice as likely to complete their qualification as those who received neither an allowance nor a student loan, who had the worst rate of completion. In addition, allowance-only students whose previous activity was unemployment or a household person were four times more likely to complete a qualification.

Students with both an allowance and a loan, as well as students with just a loan, also had a higher level of completion, while Maori students with allowances only were three times more likely to complete their qualification.

The report came on the back of news that the government was investigating the possibility of a universal student allowance, although the report itself was not commissioned by Minister of Tertiary Education Pete Hodgson.

NZUSA Co-President Paul Falloon welcomed the report’s findings, finding the evidence of Maori success particularly encouraging and stating that the association would “keep prodding [Labour] about [universal student allowances].”

However, New Zealand Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (NZVCC) chair Roger Field said the report demonstrated the success of the current system and confirmed there was no justification for changing the allowance scheme.

The author of the report, Bhaskaran Nair, felt that more research was needed before any changes were made, noting in his summary that “changes to the student support system since the period analysed mean that caution is needed in drawing policy conclusions from this study.”

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