A survey of New Zealand postgraduate students has found that
40% are thinking of giving up studying because their
eligibility for the student allowance is being stripped away
The survey was carried out by Amanda Thomas (25) and Bella
Duncan (23), both doctoral students at Victoria University in
Ms Thomas is doing her PhD in geography, while Ms Duncan is
studying geology at the Antarctic Research Centre.
The results showed the Government's decision to cut
allowances for postgraduate students would make it harder for
students to get by, Ms Thomas said.
"This survey shows that not only is our ability to keep our
talented young people in New Zealand under threat, but that
those that are staying are facing huge financial stress," she
said. The survey also found that one in five respondents were
looking at studying overseas because of the changes.
Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce questioned the
results of the survey, saying that its online nature meant it
Mr Joyce accepted the change would be "annoying" for students
who had their entitlement cut, but believed it would cause
very few to quit their studies.
"We need to realise ...
[these students] are going to be on average very quickly
earning up to 70% more than someone who doesn't go to
university and get a degree.
"I think it is only fair, particularly given the big blowout
we have had in student allowances, that they be asked to
borrow from the student loan scheme," he said.
Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) president-elect
Francisco Hernandez said the survey results matched what he
had heard from University of Otago students.
"I haven't had time to read the report in detail yet, but the
conclusions are consistent with what we've heard from our
"The changes to the postgraduate allowance are acting as a
deterrent for students to pursue higher education," he said.
Ms Thomas said that 202 students took part in the online
survey and that she sought respondents by contacting
students' associations and other student groups around New
Zealand. She carried out the survey because she felt there
was a lack of discussion about the issue.
"Our leaders seem to have stuck their heads in the sand about
the consequences, and that's why we undertook our own
grassroots survey under the name of Keep Our Talent."