The economic downturn is still
making life difficult for students looking for summer holiday
work and more than twice as many are on student hardship
benefits than four years ago.
Figures released by the Ministry of Social Development under
the Official Information Act show that at the end of December
last year 18,120 were on the ''unemployment benefit student
hardship'', which certain students are entitled to if they
are unable to find work.
The number was down from a peak of 19,296 in December 2011,
but more than double the 7386 receiving the benefit at the
same time in 2008.
Ministry of Social Development deputy chief executive Iona
Holsted said the recession was to blame for the increase in
the number of those on the benefit over the last four years.
Students in Dunedin were faring worse compared with four
years ago, with 1538 on the benefit at the end of last year -
more than two and a-half times as many as the 574 receiving
it at the same time in 2008. The Dunedin figures did not take
in to account students who left Dunedin and returned home
over the summer.
Otago University Students' Association president Francisco
Hernandez said the figures showed the recession was still
making it difficult for students to find work.
''Students are finding it tough to find a job everywhere, but
with Dunedin's economy based largely around the university
and the students, it is likely that we'd see an increase in
students looking for financial assistance as the semester
time work dries up.''
A higher overall unemployment rate also meant there was more
competition for jobs, Mr Hernandez said.
Otago students made ''reliable and flexible'' workers and he
encouraged employers to give them a shot.
Depending on circumstances, students are entitled to between
$136.64 - if single and living at home - and $293.58 - if a
To qualify, a student must have been receiving a student
allowance during the year, be entitled to one in the coming
year, or fit in with the ''additional hardship criteria''.