Budget hits students hardIn Treasury's latest forecasts government funding for Tertiary education will fall every year from 2009-2014. Most of this reduction is due to a tightening in eligibility for student loans, but it also includes falls in funding for tuition and other tertiary education spending.
Yet more are entering tertiary education – some in order to stay off the dole, others to retrain. When in government, Labour wanted more to study instead of going on the dole, but National wants more to get jobs now that they are fully qualified tertiary students, and restricting others from getting student loans.
In the budget policy statementBill English said:
We will need to become more effective in moving young people from education and training into the labour market, and also in utilising the skills of others such as older workers, part-time workers, migrants and women with dependent children who may want to work more
But what about those already in the labour market - perhaps women with dependent children - who want to study? Thousands study part time, but will no longer be able to borrow any money through the student loans scheme for course –related costs. Now for the average Victoria University student that may not be such a big deal, for the average Massey student living in Palmerston North doing one paper with no contact course it may not be such a big deal – but what about a person in Oamaru who has recently lost his job and is doing four papers through Massey and has to travel to contact courses in Palmerston North for three of them?
That student will now have to pay for his air fares – after paying for books. Or fail his paper if he doesn’t turn up. And what happens if his laptop breaks down- he can’t go to uni to use their computers – he lives in the sticks. He cant borrow from the student loan scheme to get money to fix it. And if he is 55 or older he won’t be able to borrow for living costs either. The only other options are a bank loan or borrow off friends.
If he is in a partnership and gets a job earning $200 a week, he may be entitled to an abated student allowance, but, due to the nasty abatement regime, if he and his partner earns a combined $700 a week, that family would get less net income than if they earned $400 - income that will have to be used to pay for the air fares and accommodation to the student’s contact course or to fix a computer - both of which would be needed to pass a course of study if the contact course was deemed "absolutely compulsory" to attend.
Getting an education just got harder for some students who don’t want to hitchhike.
Labels: budget 2011