March 13, 2014
Contact: Daniel Haines

Research shows students hit hard by recession

New research released today by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) shows students were hit hard by the economic recession. Fewer jobs and higher costs meant many struggled to make ends meet, and there is continuing concern over the impact of high student debt.

“As another decade of debt is piled onto a new generation, students have little to celebrate as they head into a new academic year. Fees are rising, debt is up, fewer students are able to remain debt-free, living costs increased, and it is much harder to find work,” says NZUSA co-President David Do.

The results of NZUSA’s 2010 Income and Expenditure Survey found that:
• Tuition fees continue to be a significant cost, having increased by 13% since 2007. The median amount now paid is $5,400 per year, an increase of 42% since 2001. 
• Average student loan debt continues to climb and is now $15,558, 31% higher than in 2001. The median amount borrowed is now $12,000, 41% higher than in 2001.
• More than three quarters (77%) relied on a student loan to pay for tuition fees, up from 69% in 2007, indicating it has been more difficult to save for fees in the recent economic climate.

“Students appear to have borne the brunt of recent high unemployment. Our research shows a massive drop in students doing regular or casual work during the academic year, from 90% in 2007 to just 65%. 58% are stressed about the effect of their financial situation on their study,” says Do.

Particularly concerning has been the harsh impact on student parents, with numbers dropping markedly from 19% of the student population in 2007 to just 8% in 2010.

“It is likely that the tight job market, a huge 30% jump in median childcare costs from $35 to $50 per week, and cuts to the Training Incentive Allowance have increased barriers to entry,” says NZUSA co-President Max Hardy.

A decisive 90% of students supported zero interest on loans. The highest perceived impacts of having a student loan were seen as being the ability to buy a house (72% cited this), deciding when to go overseas (69%), and saving for the future (65%).

"Interest-free student loans enjoy across the board support and are now an untouchable policy. The policy has been instrumental in reducing the barriers to education and the burden of debt falling on graduates,” concludes Hardy.

The NZUSA Income and Expenditure Survey was carried out by Colmar Brunton and has been conducted every three years since 1994, following the introduction of the Student Loan Scheme in 1992. It details the financial and socio-economic situation of students at universities and polytechnics throughout New Zealand.

NZUSA is the national representative body for tertiary students and has been advocating on student issues since 1929.

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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