Student leaders are joining the chorus of disaffected constituents over last week’s budget, saying it fails to do enough to help students.
New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) Co-President Joey Randall says the budget was “disappointing” for students, citing a lack of “meaningful increases in student support from Labour”.
Given the cumbersome nickname of the “Money Go-Round” budget by National Party leader John Key, Finance Minister Michael Cullen’s eighth budget sets aside $285.1 million extra operating money for tertiary education over the next four years.
Of that almost $300 million:
* $129 million will be given to universities to “build their capability and strengthen their international competitiveness”;
* $16.2 million for student allowance funding;
* $14 million for the Performance Based Research Fund (PBRF) – a system that allocates government funding based on academic performance.
* $35 million to the Quality Reinvestment Programme, which aids institutes of technology and polytechnics to reach the educational standards outlined in the Statement of Tertiary Education Priorities (STEP);
* $6 million to wananga to boost research capability. Finance Minister Michael Cullen says the budget aims to provide “better value for money for taxpayers and students. This is vital if we are to maximise the potential of the tertiary sector to contribute to our economic and social well-being.”
However, National Tertiary Education spokesman Dr. Paul Hutchinson says while he believes students will be pleased at the small increase in money for allowances, overall “in our view the Government got its priorities wrong.”
Instead of forking our for the interest free student loans programme, Hutchinson argues the money should go to increasing student allowances.
Randall agrees, saying that instead of increasing the numbers of students receiving the allowance as Labour promised, students actually receiving the allowance has dropped by 20 percent.
Massey Wellington Students’ Association President Sean Gillespie, who attended last week’s budget lock-up, says “while the budget certainly didn’t put a smile on my face, it didn’t take one off either. There’s a long way to go until students are properly supported.”