The economic recession has been over officially for a
year but Dunedin tertiary students are yet to benefit.
Part-time work is still difficult to find and more students
than ever are seeking emergency financial support.
Tertiary education reporter Allison Rudd
Otago University Students' Association president Harriet
Geoghegan inspects the association's foodbank cupboard.
Photo by Craig Baxter.
Think of the cost of essential day-to-day living for a
typical Dunedin tertiary student - accommodation, food,
electricity, transport and personal items such as clothing,
shampoo and soap. Add in spending on the occasional visit to
the doctor or dentist, evening out, birthday present or trip
home for the many Dunedin students whose families live
Then try doing all that on $160-$200 a week.
With a room in a standard student flat costing between $85
and $130 a week, there is not much left over for the rest,
student leaders say.
Unexpected bills or financial problems, such as high winter
electricity bills, urgent travel or getting sick and being
unable to work, can easily plunge students into financial
Both the Otago University Students Association (OUSA) and the
Otago Polytechnic Students Association (OPSA) offer foodbank
assistance and hardship grants or loans and have seen a sharp
increase in the number of students seeking help over the past
That was not surprising, OUSA president Harriet Geoghegan and
her OPSA counterpart Meegan Cloughley said.
Most students managed from week to week using a combination
of student allowances or student loans, overdrafts, loans and
gifts from family and income from part-time work.
But work opportunities dried up quickly in late 2008 when the
recession started to bite and despite the recession being
officially over, jobs were still difficult to secure.
Those unable to find work were living on about $160 a week
(although some students are eligible for an accommodation
supplement) - less than the $185 a week unemployment benefit
paid to a young single person, the women said.
Studylink, the Government organisation which administers
student loans and allowances, was also slower than usual to
begin students' payments this year, Ms Cloughley said.