May 20, 2020
Issue 06

Government $20m hardship fund a ‘great first step’, says student association president

MAWSA President Jacob Paterson is confident the $20 million hardship fund announced in the Budget 2020 by the Government last week is a ‘great first step’ towards helping tertiary students.

The hardship fund is additional to the $20 million fund announced earlier this month to help tertiary students continue their online learning. 

“We should celebrate the win. It's a result of students across the nation coming forward and having their voices heard,” said Paterson.

“MAWSA along with 43 other student associations told the government this is the support our students need, and we're finally getting some from the government.

“There's still so much more we need from the government to support tertiary students - so we will celebrate this win, but keep pushing for more.”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said a major advantage of the fund was that it can be implemented easily, will be distributed by tertiary education providers and “gets money into the hands of students who need it quickly”.

“There’s no one-size fits all approach to meeting the financial needs of students who can’t access the general student supports available,” Hipkins said.

“[The fund will] help those students get through the next few months and keep them engaged in their studies.”

A Trades and Apprenticeships Package worth $1.6 billion has also been created to provide retraining opportunities to those who may have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19.

This will go towards courses linked to industry needs such as agriculture, manufacturing and building and construction as well as vocational courses like community health, counselling and care work.

There is also a specific $50 million fund for Māori apprentices and trades training.

The Government has not committed to restoring post-graduate students’ eligibility for the student allowance despite the Labour Party promising to do so if elected in 2017.

Additionally, the Fees-Free programme remains unchanged despite some commentators saying it will assist with the costs of retraining.

(This news story is a collaboration with ASPA reporter Annabel McCarthy. ASPA is the Aotearoa Student Press Association, whose membership includes all student magazines in New Zealand).