By Tess Patrick
The Massey at Wellington Students’ Association (MAWSA) student executive are investigating a move which would see free counselling services offered to all students on the capital city campus.
However, they are treading carefully as the subsidy could come at a steep price.
Currently, Wellington students pay $5 per session for counselling services. However, in both Albany and Manawatu, the first 10 counselling sessions are offered free of charge to students.
MAWSA President Adam Logan Cairns says making these services more available for students in Wellington, and more in line with Manawatu and Albany campuses, is an important move.
He says to acknowledge the need for financial support for those seeking counselling services is one step, however, Wellington students should also be concerned with where future funding for the initiative would come from.
He says since the scheme was introduced in Albany there was a spike in wait times and two additional counsellors were hired to help with the load.
“Wait times would probable jump through the roof,” Adam says. “And because no money is going into it how do we look at funding a fourth, and a fifth and maybe even a sixth counsellor.”
In fact a further subsidy on counselling sessions would mean rellocation of student levy money, he says.
Student Health and Counselling Services Counsellor Patricia Ford says when she joined the team in 2009 a small fee for counselling services was introduced by the Student Services Trust.
“I argued for a small charge for everyone, rather than a substantial charge after a certain amount of sessions in Wellington,” she says.
Ford says while she understands even $5 is a strain for some students, Health and Counselling Services try and accommodate those who are financially struggling.
She urges students to think carefully before demanding their levies be re-distributed.
“… We still do have some discretion and MAWSA have some hardship money available as well, so there is a reasonable support base there if people can’t manage it.”
Adam agrees, saying, “if we are putting money into helping counselling, where do we have to take it away from?”