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University of Otago students applauded a Green Party policy yesterday promising a universal postgraduate student allowance and extending student loan limits beyond seven years.
On a visit to the Dunedin campus to announce the party's tertiary policy package, leader James Shaw said students were the only group in society who were expected to borrow money to survive.
Under the policy, ''a fair deal for students'', postgraduate students under 24 would receive a $39.50 a week boost, while students over 24 would get an extra $47.50.
Most postgraduate students had not been eligible for a student allowance since changes made in the 2012 budget.
The move was expected to cost about $300million a year.
The party also promised to extend access to loans and allowances beyond seven years so people who wished to retrain after studying could.
Party candidate Chloe Swarbrick (23) told about 200 people at the announcement the policy would be a way for tertiary students to get out of poverty and not be debilitated by debt.
''Being a student right now kind of sucks.
''It is really hard, it is really expensive and quite frequently you are faced with the decision about whether you are buying two-minute noodles or putting more gas in the tank or catching the bus to uni.
''This policy announcement to me is all about fixing the immediacy of that problem and ensuring that students have resources available to actually get through the years of their degrees.''
The party also planned to create a green student card that would offer free public transport for students and apprentices during off-peak hours.
The party supported Labour's three years free tertiary education proposal, but wanted its policy to have a more immediate impact, Mr Shaw said.
''Travelling around the country the feedback we are getting from students is you can always defer your loan, payments are a bit further down the road, but right now students are really struggling to make ends meet day to day, week to week.''
The announcement was not about ''pitching for votes'', rather investing in young people, he said.
GREEN TERTIARY POLICY
• Student allowance for all postgraduate students
• 20% increase in allowance rates for all students
• Free off-peak public transport for students and apprentices
• Free counselling for everyone under 25