“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.