Study shows students spend their summer working to keep themselves going, rather than saving for the year ahead.

“One of the hardest things that current students face getting themselves through their studies is money problems and living costs. The time where students were able to get a job over the summer and save for the whole year ahead of them has long since passed. When I talk to the generation of students who, ironically, also preceded the introduction of tuition fees and means-tested allowances, that’s the most striking difference from their time”, said NZUSA President Daniel Haines.

“Without accesses to high paying work which allows students to save money, the need for a universal student allowance becomes even more pressing”, says Haines.

“Our survey showed that just under two-thirds of students worked over the last summer break. The remaining students are divided between study, unemployment or dependence on their parents. Over 75% of the students found work over the summer for more than eight weeks. For most, this was not a break, just a different kind of grind.

“The study showed that only 10% received the Job Seeker Student Hardship or student unemployment benefit, and 70% of those who did received it for 5 weeks or fewer.

“Ten percent of respondents reported that they needed gifts from their parents, 9% loans from their parents, and 3% loans from friends to get through the summer period. Two percent actually sold assets to make ends meet. Only half of full-time students began the year with savings (50.65%) and of those who did the average was under $2000 ($1892) – or less than six weeks in a hall of residence.

“What is also striking was that of those who worked over the summer nearly 50% either had jobs that they had previously had (25%) or got their job through friends and family (24%). This is not the meritocracy that we’ve been brought up to think of New Zealand as. We need greater support for those who don’t have such connections", says Haines.

The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) surveyed students from across New Zealand during the month of August asking them about their income, expenditure, assets and debts. The study, the largest of its kind and unique in that it has been ongoing for nearly 30 years, involved just under 5,000 student respondents from 11 campuses, and included those at both universities and polytechnics.


  • Two-thirds of students worked over the summer break, 75% of them for more than 8 weeks.
  • Only half of full-time students began the year with savings, and for those who did the average was less than $2000.
  • 50% of students get their summer jobs through connections such as friends and family.

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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