Budget 2016- Tertiary students hope for more assistance

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne

The government is set to announce 2016 Budget today and tertiary students are among those hoping to be given more financial assistance.

President of the Auckland University student association, Will Mathews says that financial aid for everyday living is a huge concern for University students.

With little affordable accommodation in Auckland’s CBD, Mathews says many students are forced to live further away from university. Although rent may be cheaper, commuting to university on public transport from the outer Auckland suburbs can be expensive.

Tumuaki of Te Mana Akonga, Ivy Harper says, “We would like to see the provision of free public transport for tauira. We want to see an increase in the amount student loan borrowers can access for living and study costs.”

There has been a significant increase in the number of Māori studying at a tertiary level. In the 2013 census, 75% of Māori stated a bachelor’s degree.

However the number Māori with post graduate degrees is much smaller.

Mathews says a huge barrier for many students wanting to pursue postgraduate study is the cap on eligibility for a student allowance.

In 2012, post-graduate students’ entitlement to allowances was removed and exceptions to the 200-week limit on allowances were removed for long courses such as medicine.

One postgraduate students, Apenti Tamanui-Fransen says, “This creates a number of barriers not only for Māori students but all who wish to engage in Post Graduate studies and those whose degrees take longer than 4 years. For students living in Auckland in particular, with students dealing with high rent and living cost, these create greater financial barriers that can in turn become detrimental towards their study. These will be but some of the issues students will be paying close attention to leading up to the 2016 Budget announcements.”

Harper says, “We want to address inequity issues that limit access and participation caused by the current loan scheme and so we support a universal student allowance for all tauira. We want to see the reinstatement of student allowances for post-graduate students.”

Mature students who are looking to upskill or retrain face further barriers. The eligibility of students aged over 55 to get loans for living costs or course-related costs was removed in 2011.

According to tertiary students who have spoken to online news the 112.3 million of operating funding announced in last year’s budget, hasn’t addressed the day to day issues they face.