Student poverty.

The Green Party and the New Zealand Union of Student Associations, Te Mana Ākonga, Tauira Pasifika and the National Disabled Students’ Association have released a report into student wellbeing and it makes for uncomfortable reading.

From the more than 4,500 students who responded:

  • On average, those living in a shared flat spend 56% of their weekly income on rent. 91% support rent controls and 82% support a rental warrant of fitness.
  • Two-thirds of students regularly do not have enough money to buy food, clothing, pay bills, get health care or other basics. Disabled, Māori and Pasifika students were most likely to be in that position.
  • One in six students said their shared flat didn't meet their needs but couldn't move because rents were too high.
  • Two-thirds haven't been able to pay for transport or the costs of a vehicle.
  • 91% said they would use public transport "more" if it was free.
  • Most students (69%) reported a decline in mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some said this negatively impacted their studies.

One survey respondent said “I’m currently filling this survey out while drinking lots of water because I don’t actually have enough food for a meal tonight. I think that’s a summary of my personal experience as a university student.”

Sam Blackmore, National Vice President of NZUSA said “Payments to students need to be … liveable. They should be provided regardless of how much part-time income that a student may make out of necessity to supplement themselves – especially in a cost-of-living crisis.”

“A Universal Education Income, a weekly payment to every student regardless of level of study, age, or parental income would help students meet day to day costs and reduce long term debt.”

To read the full report, click here.