Students are struggling. Last year, the Graduate Longitudinal Study (GLSNZ) found that around 13% of students are in serious financial hardship . AUSA currently offers a variety of welfare services, which have been in constant and increasingly high demand. AUSA does not have a services agreement with the University which means that they do not contract or pay us any of your student levy. Instead, we get funding from them in the form of rent payments for space that they use, which is very different to a services agreement. I’ll talk about this in a later column, but I am more than happy to discuss in person if anyone wishes. It’s up to all of us to look after our fellow students.
AUSA is looking at setting up a system whereby students can help out other students financially. If you contribute $1 a week, at the end of the year you would have paid for ¼ of a hardship grant for one student. If you contributed $2 a week, then at the end of the year you would have paid for ½ of a hardship grant for a student. If you contributed $4 a week, which is barely the cost of a coffee, at the end of the year, you would have paid for an entire hardship grant for a fellow student.
Our loose change can impact the wellbeing and livelihood of others, and while I acknowledge the struggles of all students, it’s great to support each other, especially those of us who might need a helping hand more than others. Small but worthy contributions can add up to larger gains for the student collective. These funds collected from Tauira mō ngā take tauira will be used for the AUSA FoodBank and on AUSA Hardship Grants. Support this win-win scenario for all students: loose change for tangible gains! If you are keen to donate or get involved, look out for more information in my column or keep an eye out on our website.
AUSA IT & Design Manager, Nick Withers is doing a great job at updating our website. If you want your event or an article relevant to students posted on our website. Please email Will Velida on firstname.lastname@example.org or myself at email@example.com.
Student Job Search
Last week, Dan and I flew down to Wellington for the Student Job Search 30th Birthday Party. We were joined by Members of Parliament, a mix of ex and current student association presidents and general managers. The organisation was founded in 1983 by student associations who have now retained control of the organisation. Student Job Search are funded through the student associations and the Ministry of Social Development. They deal with over 20,000 students and employers each week, and make a valuable contribution to the livelihood of students, providing them with valuable work experience and income to ensure that they are well-equipped with the skills to get through their study and to succeed later on in life.
Last week, during the procession at graduation day on Friday 19th May, some students planned a visual protest against what they see as “the extreme amount of debt that they and other students are subjected to.”
These students placed a simple sticker on their graduation gown indicating how much debt they owed as a result of their academic studies. This served a visual reminder of the number that the government reduces them to.
New Zealand has the 7th highest tuition fees in the OECD and fees at the University of Auckland consistently increase by the maximum allowed under current legislation at 4% each year. Protestors said that they recognised and appreciated the immense amount of time and money people put in to get where they are today. For this reason, they said that the protest will be a respectful, silent but visual one.
Vanessa Cole, one of the students wearing a sticker when she graduated commented “We do not wish to take away from people’s celebratory procession but to send a message about the high cost of education in this country and, in turn, the inaccessibility of such an education to many. Education should not be a debt sentence.”
Congratulations to all those who graduated last week, and your lifetimes of debt.
 Baseline Report of the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand (GLSNZ).