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Labour party will increase student allowance by $50 if elected

By Nikki Papatsoumas

As momentum builds ahead of the 2017 General Election Labour has announced its latest policy and it’s aimed directly at students.

If elected, the party has promised to offer one year of free post-secondary study to all first time tertiary students. As well as this it will boost student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week. This is part of the party’s plan to offer three years free post-secondary study by 2024.

Massey at Wellington Students’ Association (MAWSA) Education Vice President Emma Pearce thinks it’s great the party is catering for students and hopes it will encourage more students to vote later this month.

“I’m surprised it hasn’t gone up sooner due to how expensive it is to live these days. If you look specifically to Wellington and Auckland with the price of rent, the current amount doesn’t even cover rent alone for students, I think it’s a positive change.”

She says offering free tertiary study is good but it is of more benefit to secondary school leavers than current university students.

“On the whole it’s awesome and it’s great to get people to try university but if they aren’t serious, it’s not fair to the rest of us, because the money has to come from somewhere.”

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has welcomed the announcement and say it is great to see the party making a commitment to lifting student support.
NZUSA President Jonathan Gee says tertiary education should be a right for all, not a privilege for a few.
“Making tertiary-study more affordable for students, and their families, means that New Zealanders from lower socio-economic backgrounds are one step closer to experiencing the transformative power of education,” he says.
“Students are telling us that they barely have enough to live on. Even with a part-time job students are struggling, and are forced to focus on economic survival rather than academic success.”
He says for this reason, an extra $50 in allowances will be of great assistance to students.
However, Gee suggests that more still needs to be done to improve the accessibility of tertiary study, and lifting the maximum that can be borrowed for living costs is only a short-term solution.
He says he would like to see more students able to access to the student allowance, which currently only 33 per cent of students are eligible for since the current Government froze the parental income threshold eligibility five years ago.

“Increasing student loan borrowing might be a short-term solution to meeting basic needs, but it still leaves graduates with a significant amount of debt in the long-term.

“As student loan debt reaches $16 billion, students and graduates are crying out for relief of this debt burden.”

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