Students call for change – and have the power to make it happen

03 September 2014
Early results from a survey of university and polytechnic students, involving nearly 5000 tertiary students, shows that if students vote for what they believe in they are likely to be extremely influential in the current election.

“Our Income and Expenditure Survey has a thirty year tradition and has confirmed students are very clear in what they support. The rules of our democracy are very simple, if the 400,000 tertiary students, which is 14% of eligible voters, vote for parties promising what students want then we will prompt change to get those things”, says Daniel Haines, New Zealand Union of Students’ Association (NZUSA) President.

Areas that the survey has highlighted are:

1. Funding and Allowances
Six out of 10 said they support free education, with just 1 in 20 strongly opposed. Six out of 10 said they were concerned at how much debt they would have when they graduated, only 1 in 6 did not. Only 8% of full-time students were not at all worried about their debt level on graduating. Three-quarters want a living allowance that is not dependent on parents’ income, against 1 in 20 who strongly oppose this.

2. Student Loan Scheme
Ninety-three percent support interest-free student loans, with just 2% strongly opposed – which reflects popular support for The ACT Party, the only party that advocates restoring interest, although the National-led government introduced a finance charge – interest by stealth – in 2012.

3. Student Voice
Eighty-five percent want restoration of a collective student voice that is independent, authentic and sustainably resourced, most likely achieved through an end to voluntary membership of students’ associations.

4. Tertiary Governance Arrangements
Eighty-seven percent agree or strongly agree that students should have a role in governance of their institutions, against just 1% who are opposed. This represents an overwhelming rejection of Steven Joyce’s proposed governance changes for universities and wānanga.

5. Scholarships for the first in family
NZUSA’s first-in-family policy – even though no current student would benefit from it and it has only recently been introduced as a concept – had 55% support, though understandably a quarter had no opinion. Just 9% were opposed.

6. Graduate Jobs
Eighty percent of respondents wanted all graduates to be entitled to high quality jobs, with restrictions on job specific programmes to the number of jobs available, if necessary, just 1% strongly disagreed.

NZUSA has produced a student guide to voting which can be found here:

The voice of New Zealand's 400,000 students.

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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