Stuff article strips debate of facts - student presidents


NZUSA President Rory McCourt says students and their representatives are furious with a article today proclaiming “Studylink money blown on strippers, alcohol and Taylor Swift tickets”. He says the article lacks perspective and creates an inaccurate view of how a government loan scheme is used by students.

The article quotes four anonymous students – including one who studied four years ago-, each of whom used their course-related costs loan to purchase non-course materials and services.

McCourt says the students’ cases are not the norm and reporting them in the way the article did was irresponsible, undermining the prospect of an informed debate on student support and student debt –which reaches $15 billion next year.

Students were taking to social media to vent their frustration at the article, laughing at the idea that there would be enough money in their budgets for a life of luxury.

Mr McCourt says the article “generalises from anecdote the experiences of all students, which is lazy journalism and in this instance just wrong.”

Quoting from the Victoria University Student Financial Services survey from 2011, McCourt says “What the research shows us that the course related costs loan is essential income for students to pay for basics like bus fares, car repairs, bond and rent in advance – especially at the start of the year.”

“42 per cent of students spend their course-related costs loan towards accommodation costs such as bond, rent in advance and set-up costs.”

McCourt says New Zealanders can feel confident in the scheme.

“What the Ministry of Social Development’s audit of the scheme shows us is that New Zealanders can have confidence that students are using this yearly $1000 loan to pay for the basics, there is no fraud here – just shoddy journalism.”

“Good journalism shouldn’t be based on anecdote. The evidence, the auditing and the experience shows that course-related costs loans go on essentials - not luxuries.”

McCourt says the real story is that the Government, which has not indicated any concern with how the scheme is being used, needs to lift the course-related costs loan limit from $1000.

“The loan limit hasn’t increased since 1993, while the cost of transport, fixing your car, software and textbooks has.”

“The reality is that more and more students are struggling and this miserly loan is being used to cover costs student allowances once paid for. In fact, it’s so bad that 28 per cent of students now have credit card debt before they graduate –that’s up from 18 per cent just four years ago.”

McCourt says has covered student issues accurately in the past and he looks forward to working with the company again.

“We’ve sent Fairfax some of the facts and we hope that future debates on student support will be based on data, not anecdata. Students and their families deserve better.”


Matalena O'Mara

Unitec Student Council President

Rory McCourt

NZUSA National President

Paul Smith

Auckland University Students' Association President

Linsey Higgins

Massey University Students' Association President

Rick Zwaan

Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association President

Izzy O'Neill 

NZUSA National Women's Rights Officer 

Byron Brooks

Albany Students' Association (Massey) President


April Pokino

AUT Students' Association President



Paul Hunt

Otago University Students' Association President



                         Tom Pringle

Massey at Wellington Students' Association


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