24 July 2014
As students prepare for the early voting that will take place on all university and many polytechnic campuses next month, the restoration of post-graduate allowances, removed by the current government in 2013, is emerging as a key election issue.
In the process of compiling its guide to voting the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has polled parties on their approach to student support – all except the National Party are calling for a review of the failing system of student support. The Green Party, New Zealand First and Internet MANA have all explicitly said they will immediately restore allowances for post-graduate students.
“This is so eminently sensible on behalf of these parties”, says Daniel Haines, President of NZUSA. “The short-sighted cut has resulted in a reduction of research, innovation, expertise and knowledge in New Zealand. Students who can’t afford to carry on to post-graduate study are forced to discontinue or take up the take up the much better support offered in Australia and never to return – both are unacceptable options”, continued Haines.
“It is extra harmful in the area of post-graduate health sciences where a number of occupations listed on the skills-shortage list require post-graduate qualifications and where there had been significant effort to increase Māori and Pasifika participation to make the work-force look more like the New Zealand population. This is at risk now as Māori and Pasifika are more likely to be reliant on allowances.
“It is good that these parties have committed to restoring post-graduate allowances and we call upon the other parties that have identified the need for a review of student support in general: UnitedFuture, the Māori Party and the Labour Party, to come clear on where they stand on the issue, and for the National Party to reconsider its position. Students, parents, and others who want to live in a vibrant New Zealand future will be making will then be able to an informed choice in the 2014 General Election.
“Cutting allowances to post-graduates has saved virtually no money as the students become eligible for the higher level of support offered by the accommodation supplement and the living cost component of student loans. It costs the student but saves the taxpayer virtually nothing; restoring them is good for students, good for research and innovation, and good for the country.”