The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has called the Greens’ student policy announcement today a positive step forward in improving students’ lives. The policy includes introducing a universal student allowance for postgraduate students and brings together past announcements relating to free off-peak public transport for students, free counselling services for under-25s and winter energy subsidies for low-income earners.
National President Jonathan Gee says ‘students are looking for policies that speak to their lived experiences. Transport and energy costs are big drivers of student poverty, and poor mental health is too often correlated with tertiary study. This policy package is a positive step towards making a difference in students’ lives.’
The package responds to over half the recommendations outlined in NZUSA’s Income and Expenditure Report 2017, which shines a light on the real cost of being a student in New Zealand.
‘We have long said that tertiary study should be a way out of poverty, not a way into it. We’re glad that the Greens have heeded our calls, particularly around removing the lifetime limit on student loan borrowing and allowances, and moving towards a universal student allowance for all those in tertiary study.’
Gee warned, however, that a real plan towards a universal allowance must be a priority for any future government.
‘Students tell us that they need help surviving now, but are also worried about the impact of student debt on the rest of their lives. The Greens have acknowledged the unfairness of students being the only group in society expected to borrow just to get by, and we strongly urge them to end this discrimination.’