Welcome to NZUSA - the voice of the New Zealand student union movement

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    Government cuts student voice - Now it's up to University Councils

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    11 February 2015

    Media Release from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

    The Government passed its widely-panned Education Amendment Bill in a rush through Parliament last night. The bill shrinks New Zealand’s university councils down to a maximum of 12 and removes the requirement for student and staff representatives on councils.

    The new law makes New Zealand’s university councils amongst the smallest in the world, with none of the world’s top universities having councils so unrepresentative and dominated by government appointees.

    The move now leaves it up to each of the eight universities to determine how they allocate their few seats by rewritting their constitutions ahead of the Minister’s deadline of 2016. That gives national student president Rory McCourt hope that all universities will use this opportunity to choose to keep students and staff at the top table.

    “We know from the evidence that having people from the coalface, people who know what it’s like to teach or be a student, can mean a world of difference in the performance of governing boards.” says McCourt.

    “Without the real-world experience of students and staff an institution risks heading down a path blind to the realities of the decision they make, or could make.”

    “Universities have for centuries been collegial communities where every voice was valued, where challenges to authority were expected and where conscience was valued alongside expertise. Surely no one wants to lose what makes universities universities?”

    “We’ll be working with partners to show university councils the value of having students and staff involved in strategic decision-making. We think at least one third of a council should be students and staff; democratically elected, independent of university management or Ministerial interference, and accountable to their peers.

    “It makes sense that at least one of the student representatives is the students’ association president. Associations are key to providing student representatives who are in touch and accountable to the student body. They also provide the infrastructure required to support a councillor in doing their job well.”

    “Now it’s in the hands of each university council. We are confident over next year they’ll each make the right decision to secure student and staff voices through at least one third of their top table.” says McCourt.

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    Housing Crisis hitting Students

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    “Housing crisis hitting students” - New national student president

    10 February 2015
    Media Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations

    Newly elected president of the the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) Rory McCourt says incomes for students have not kept up with the rising cost of accommodation, particularly in Auckland and Christchurch.

    “As students return to or think about begining study, they’ll be looking at their weekly budgets and finding the rise in the cost of rent is outstripping their government support for yet another year. For some students that might mean clocking up more hours at their part-time job, to the detriment of their studies. For other students it might mean leaving study for this year until they’ve saved a bit,” the national student president says.

    “I think many parents and grandparents wouldn’t realise that in a place like Auckland, where the average student pays well over $200 a week for a room in a flat, their loved one is isn’t even receiving enough support to pay rent and power.”

    “Even outside of Auckland, the average student will be borrowing the maximum, about $180 a week, and paying at least two-thirds, if not all of it, in rent alone. For a large portion of students, they can’t even borrow enough to live.”

    McCourt says taking students’ housing cost concerns to the Government will be a large focus for the national student movement this year.

    “In the last five years average rents in Auckland have increased by $50 per week, from $175 to $225 for a room in a three bedroom house. But the accommodation benefit that the poorest students get as part of their student allowance hasn’t gone up at all because of a cap that was reached thirteen years ago. To make things worse, only one in three students even receive the  $40 a week accomodation support. For most students, who borrow to live, the weekly amount they can draw down has edged up by just $15 a week over the same period.”

    “Every other low income New Zealander can access accommodation support that keeps pace with increases in accommodation costs. If an average student in Auckland had that, they would be entitled to $125 per week.”

    “We think it’s time for decent, universal accommodation support so that every responsible student has a shot at tertiary education.”

    “We want Government help to remove one of the largest barriers that stands in the way of real equality of opportunity; the unaffordable cost of housing.”

     “I hope we can work with all parties to get a better deal for students in this important area. I think everyone can agree that opportunity for all is key to unlocking New Zealand’s economic and social potential,” he says.

    McCourt, 22, is a history graduate from Victoria University where he served as the local student union president in 2013. He was elected in early February and will serve a one year term.

    About NZUSA: NZUSA is the national body that represents students’ associations and students at universities, polytechnics, wānanga and in trades training.

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    University of Auckland votes for fee hikes, yet again

    Monday 20 October
    Press Release: Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA)

    “The decision today marks a decade of fee hikes and poor decision making on behalf of the University of Auckland,” said Cate Bell, President of the Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA). Her sentiment was echoed by the hundreds of Auckland students who protested throughout the day, calling on the government and the University's Vice-Chancellor to pay attention to concerns about pricing students out of tertiary study.

    “We have seen a declining roll in five out of the eight universities in New Zealand last year as increasing cost keeps students away from study. What has been exposed is that demand for education isn't exhaustive and fantastical levels of debt are a deterrent for students participating in higher education,” says Bell.

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    Studylink Listens and Responds to Students

    Studylink are launching their new student focused campaign in preparation of semester one 2015. The campaign was developed in partnership with the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA). In addition, Studylink have redeveloped their website, created a more streamlined application process, and produced new content targeted at tertiary providers and parents.

    “When students are told they need to get their application in early they don’t realise applications can take up to eight weeks to process. In consultation with NZUSA, Studylink anticipates all applications received before the 16th of December 2014 will be processed before courses begin in 2015,” says NZUSA President Daniel Haines.

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    New Zealand Universities Tumble Down World Rankings

    2 October 2014

    The Times Higher Education rankings released today show New Zealand universities are not keeping pace with the rest of the world. The fall in rankings can be attributed to inadequate funding compared to international best practice.

    “If New Zealand wants to retain its place on the world stage as a viable destination for export education, this Government needs to make a serious funding commitment,” said New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations President Daniel Haines.

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NZUSA is a national representative organisation that exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students by providing a voice for students and through providing support for member students’ associations.

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