Average Full time Student Is in Significant Financial Distress

16 September 2014

A new survey has found that nearly half of all full time students are in significant financial distress.

“This recent information updates the previous Baseline Report of the Graduate Longitudinal Study. Two years ago New Zealanders were horrified to discover that one in six final year students were living in significant financial distress – meaning that they did not have enough money for their basic accommodation, clothing and food requirements,” said New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) President Daniel Haines.

The national graduate study was commissioned by Universities New Zealand, backed financially by the Tertiary Education Commission and undertaken by the National Centre for Lifecourse Research (NCLR).

“NZUSA has recently surveyed 5000 students from both polytechnic and university students. The survey was not restricted to students in their final year. It restated questions from the NCLR survey and found that the situation is actually even worse.”

“If we look only at full time students then we find that the average student is in significant financial distress, and 44% report that that they do not have enough to meet their basic needs. This shows the urgent need to increase student support including an increase in student allowance rates, an expansion of allowances to those excluded by parental means tests, and properly paid summer employment”.

“It is not surprising that our findings are worse than the NCLR found because they looked only at final year students and the reality is that many students in financial distress don’t complete their studies. That’s a national disaster, but so too are all of the students whose financial situation adversely affects their performance, and no one should be expected to study in conditions where their basic needs are unaffordable.”

“It is timely that this is released now given that students and their whanau, as voters, have the opportunity to do something about this situation over the next few days. All of the opposition parties: Labour, Greens, Internet MANA, and New Zealand First, plus the Māori Party have all called for a review and towards an expansion in student support.”

The Survey

Students were asked how they felt about their current financial situation and to indicate how much they agreed or disagreed with each of the following:

Response options 1 – strongly agree, 2 – strongly disagree, 3 – neutral/mixed, 4 – agree, 5 strongly agree.

  • I have enough money to afford the accommodation I need
  • I have enough money to afford the clothing I need
  • I have enough money to afford the food that I need
  • I have enough money to afford the leisure and recreational activities I want
  • Over the past twelve months I have had difficulty meeting my financial commitments.

Data were summed to create a total score for all five items. Higher scores reflect less economic/financial strain.

I score of less than neutral overall (15) is understood under this widely used measure to indicate significant financial stress.

Mean 14.43891403 (SD = 4.6)

Median 14

Mode 15

                                Economic Strain Model (modified)

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The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations exists to advance the political, social and economic interests of tertiary students whatever they study and wherever they live. NZUSA is a membership body of local students' associatons. We believe in opportunity for all.

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