The University of Otago is not expecting to reach its budgeted number of students for the year according to a report in the Otago Daily Times
Enrolments fell 2.3 percent from last year with postgraduate and international numbers hit particularly hard, with a fall of 8 percent.
According to the ODT vice-chancellor Prof Harlene Hayne expressed concern that the Government’s decision to cut postgraduate allowances could in part be behind a drop in postgraduate research students.
The Labour Party’s tertiary education spokesperson, Megan Woods, said the drop in postgraduate numbers showed the Government’s allowance cuts were already starting to bite. However, a spokesperson for the minister told the ODT it was too early to determine what impact, if any, the postgraduate student allowances change would have on enrolments.
“I would note that Otago enrolments are soft overall as reported by the university and this would be expected as the economy picks up and more students head into the workforce. However, it stands to reason that there will be some people that choose not to participate in postgraduate study if a very generous student support scheme is made slightly less generous,” the spokesperson said.
Government expenditure on student allowances had increased from $385 million in 2007-08 to $620 million in 2010-11, and was unsustainable, he said.
“As a result, the Government has sought o focus student allowances more on students from low-income families and the early years of study – which was the original intent of the policy.”’
Postgraduate students could borrow on the interest-free student loan scheme and, because they had better job prospects and would be better paid, they could pay off their student loan more quickly, he said.