Unitec survey renews calls for urgent student support increase
A recent survey by Unitec Institute of Technology has renewed calls by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations
(NZUSA) for an urgent increase in student support.
The Unitec survey found that a third of students seriously considered dropping out mainly due to financial or
work-study-life pressures. For Maori students, nearly half consider withdrawal before course completion.
“Tertiary study should be a way out of poverty, not a way into it. What the Unitec survey results show is that the cost
of study is a huge disincentive for many to continue with tertiary education,” says NZUSA National President Jonathan
The survey also found that over half of students (55%) have not had enough income to meet their living costs at some
stage in the last 12 months. Over two-thirds of Maori students (68%) expressed the same struggle. In a comparable study,
NZUSA’s recent Income and Expenditure Report found that a third of students did not have enough income to meet their
basic needs, showing that the situation is getting worse.
Almost a third of students (31%) reported that they regularly go without food or other necessities because they cannot
“Student hardship has reached breaking point. It’s getting particularly worse for those who are the first in their
families to study in tertiary education. It’s also getting worse for those studying in Auckland, where the average rent
price for a room has now exceeded $250,” Gee said.
The survey results have reignited calls for increases in student support. With the Government announcing their Budget
late next week, students have a clear message for Finance Minister Steven Joyce and Tertiary Education, Skills and
Employment Minister Paul Goldsmith.
“The Unitec survey is clear evidence that too many students are struggling to afford even the basic necessities of life.
We strongly urge Minister Joyce and Minister Goldsmith to increase the $218 Student Allowance (including Accommodation
Benefit) so that it at least covers the rent of the 40% of tertiary students living in Auckland,” Gee said.
Gee added, “Minister Goldsmith has previously said that he expects students should make their own financial contribution
on top of support from the Government. When over half of full-time students at Unitec are working more than 15 hours a
week, we think that the balance has been well-exceeded with paid work affecting student academic success.”
We stand for opportunity, for all.
NZUSA is the New Zealand Union of Students' Associations, the national body that represents New Zealand's students'
associations and the interests of New Zealand's 400,000 students at universities, polytechnics and in trades training.
We conduct original research, advocate to Government and through the media, and support New Zealand's students'
associations to be more effective on behalf of their members. We advocate alongside Te Mana Akonga – The National Māori
Students' Association, and Tertiary Women New Zealand – The NZUSA Women's Caucus.
Since 1929, we've believed in a society rich in opportunity, where anyone from anywhere can become any thing. We
support accessible, affordable quality public tertiary education.