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Open Letter to Minister Hipkins on Student Support



Open Letter to Minister Hipkins on Student Support
During COVID-19

Today, the New Zealand Union of
Students’ Associations (NZUSA) has sent an open letter to
the Minister of Education calling on him to implement a
temporary Universal Education Income.

A Universal
Education Income (UEI) is a weekly payment that would be
available to all students – no matter their age or what
they study. It was one of three key asks of the Government
in the National Student Action Plan on COVID-19, designed
and signed by 50 student organisations from across
Aotearoa.

NZUSA National President Andrew Lessells
says that “our postgraduate and part-time students are
living off food parcels. Hardship funds are not enough, we
need more than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.
There needs to be accessible income support for every
student in Aotearoa.”

In the open letter student
leaders say that “Students are some of the most precarious
in society. Their casual jobs have dried up, their one-off
jobs have disappeared. They are often not eligible for other
income support such as the Wage Subsidy and are forced to
borrow to survive”.

In
a study conducted by NZUSA
in 2020, in partnership with
Te Mana Ākonga and Tauira Pasifika, it was estimated that
the cost of implementing a UEI would be $2.5
billion.

“We recognise that this is a bold ask, but
when our students are struggling to survive, we need bold
action. Across Aotearoa thousands of students are
considering dropping out because they can’t afford to
live. If we want New Zealand to have the skills it needs for
the future, we can’t afford to fail them” says
Lessells.

A UEI would eliminate the means testing and
heavy administration requirements associated with current
allowance model. In the model proposed by NZUSA, it would
increase the base allowance by $75 to truly reflect the cost
of living for students.

“We want to work with
Government to make sure students can afford to survive. But
they need to listen to the voices of students that are
crying out. There is not enough support for those in
tertiary education and every student knows this. The
Minister needs to wake up to this reality and help us”
says Lessells.

The open letter can be read here: https://www.students.org.nz/s/Open-Letter-for-Minister-Hipkins-Student-Support-During-COVID-19.pdf

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