Students lose in last week’s Budget

Posted By TEU on May 23, 2013 |

Tertiary Update Vol 16 No 16

Punitive measures to catch debt-laden graduates at the border are a symptom of a bigger problem says TEU national president Lesley Francey.

Last week’s budget drew media attention for its attempts to reclaim unpaid student loans from ex-students who had absconded overseas, including hiring overseas debt collectors and measures to capture students at the border.

However, the reality is this year’s budget tells the tale of a government that encourages student debt rather than seeing it as a problem to crack down upon.

Despite inflation of 0.9 percent, government funding for teaching and learning (the Student Achievement Component or SAC) actually decreased by $1 million this year. Overall tertiary education funding remains down $400 million or 10 percent below 2009 levels.

And, for students, the money that the government invests in student allowances will fall every year until 2017, at which point that investment will be down over $100 million or 18 percent less than it was last year.

“Stagnant investment from government into teaching, alongside growing inflation pressure leaves institutions with no choice but to get money from elsewhere,” said Lesley Francey. “For students that means cuts in quality, higher fees, or both. Higher fees and less access to allowances means more debt. More debt means a more unequal society and less opportunity for many potential students to learn.”

“Rather than addressing debt, last week’s budget promotes it. Students and future students will bear the brunt of this government’s unwillingness to invest in the opportunity to learn.”

student allowances

Also in Tertiary Update this week:

  1. Living wage at University of Auckland
  2. Victoria Uni caretakers negotiate for living wage
  3. Large surpluses shows money not spent on education
  4. 2013 Budget analysis

Other news

The National Science Challenges: exactly what does $134 million get these days? Last week the Government announced the National Science Challenges.  These challenges and the associated funding represented one of the biggest opportunities that the sector had been afforded for, in reality probably decades – Kathryn McGrath, Director of the MacDiarmid Institute

A “strategic alliance” with Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT) is one option being considered by Aoraki Polytechnic for the future – Timaru Herald

Australian employers have been warned against using redundancy programs to get rid of “undesired employees”, after RMIT University was fined $37,000 by the Federal Court for breaking workplace laws, and ordered to re-hire one of its professors – The Age

The crisis that is about to break out involves student debt and how we finance higher education. Like the housing crisis that preceded it, this crisis is intimately connected to America’s soaring inequality, and how, as Americans on the bottom rungs of the ladder strive to climb up, they are inevitably pulled down < some to a point even lower than where they began – Joseph Stiglitz

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