The national student union NZUSA has welcomed moves by the Government to reduce the fee increases institutions can charge students, but has warned that two major student problems remain unresolved: rent and debt.
The proposed fee change, which will limit universities and polytechnics to 3 per cent fee hikes instead of the current 4 per cent was expected to save the average student $60 per year on what they might have been charged.
If institutions continue with their current practice of putting fees up by the maximum permitted, the change will mean that average annual Bachelor of Arts fee of $6209.35 will go up by $180 next year, instead of $240.
National student president Rory McCourt says “While the theoretical saving is welcome, $60 is nothing compared to the fees and charges that the Government has slapped on students since 2008.”
“Let’s remember we’re still going to have fee hikes, just smaller hikes.”
McCourt was critical of the Government’s move to freeze the parental income threshold for allowances for a further four years, meaning up to an extra 4,000 students from modest-income families would have to borrow to live.
“Budget 2015 does nothing to reduce the $14 billion student debt mountain that keeps on growing. In fact, their cuts to allowances may actually accelerate its cancer-like growth.”
“Under National student debt has shot up four billion dollars since 2008. Toxic debt is a drag on our economy and is preventing the next generation from entering the housing market. The Government must reign in the ballooning private cost of tertiary education. It’s time for real reform, not just tinkering.”
“What Budget 2015 ignores is the out of control rent rises students are facing across the country, particularly in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Even in Gisborne rents shot up by 20 per cent in the year to April, TradeMe reveals.”
“Last year the average Auckland student rent went up $430 (or $8.26 per week) for a single room in a three bedroom flat. MBIE’s predictions show it happening again this year. Student support has increased by only 90 cents per week. The Government has got to give students enough to live on” says McCourt.