'Too many' students feel financial pinch

Francisco Hernandez
Francisco Hernandez
A spike in the number of University of Otago students seeking food parcels and looking for work shows ''too many'' are struggling financially, Otago University Students' Association (OUSA) president-elect Francisco Hernandez says.

The comments came with the release of last month's Student Job Search (SJS) figures, which showed that for the year to November almost 1000 more students were looking for jobs and fewer were being placed in work, with placements down 5% on last year.

This came as the number of students who had sought OUSA Food Bank parcels so far this year was 20% greater than the entire amount given out last year.

Mr Hernandez said the spike in food bank use was concerning.

''Their use reflects too many students staggering to the study finish line in 2012 rather than finishing in good condition.

''Couple that with the job-seeking numbers and the response to changes to postgraduate allowances, we're just a little bit concerned that food packs may be a lead indicator for students dropping out of study,'' he said.

As a result of a change in policy, postgraduate students will no longer be eligible to receive a student allowance from next year. However, there were some positives in the SJS figures, with students in the Otago area having their biggest earning month in four years in November, taking home a total of $2.16 million.

In total for the year, Otago students had earned $6.933 million, which was 20% more than at the same time last year.

''The growth in student earnings is great. But there are some students who are doing it really tough and need help, a situation which is only going to get worse once the postgraduate allowance changes come into full effect next year,'' Mr Hernandez said.