Studylink, where’s my allowance?

Students have had a hard time over summer. I arrived in Hamilton to look for somewhere to live in November of 2012, and while I’d sussed out some empty flats to look at via Trade-Me, nothing prepared me for the state of the place when I got here – whole suburbs were ghost towns of empty student flats, and all I saw on campus when inquiring about post-grad papers were International students doing bridging courses over summer.



Eventually it sank into my stressed-out brain that there were no students here ‘cos they’d all gone home to parents, some of them for jobs but mostly for the free room and board.



Then Studylink announces its new parameters, and suddenly a bunch of previously capable and successful students (postgraduates) were persona-non-grata for study support, and indeed, enrollment in a New Zealand University. This is probably the greatest shift in student allowance availability since the Student Loans Act was passed in 1992. 
Cue tickets to Australia, and a windfall for Monash and its ilk. 
Knowledge Economy, it isn’t.



What are the current batch of undergrad’s supposed to make of this? 
How confident are you, handing in assignments, going to tutorials, aiming for the ‘A’ grade, when suddenly those who were your tutors last year have been told ‘don’t come back’, unless they have no need for student allowances or student loans to cover study costs.



Someone needs to tell the Minister of Education, the Hon Hekia Parata, that this is an unreasonable way to treat those of our student community who have actual proven track record as successful students – after all, post-grad is not a forgone conclusion, it’s something some of us agonise over for a year after completing Hons; and some even go out into the workforce for a few years before returning with enough experience of life to really value our university opportunities. E-mail her here hekia.parata@parliament.govt.nz



What-the-Hekia, this is the longest Recession since the Great Depression of the 1930’s, this is actually the very economic situation that our social welfare ‘safety net’ was designed for – when global conditions go sour, NZ has very little resiliency, due to our over-exposure to export earnings. 



There were no jobs going for the one in four maaori or pasifika students without jobs this summer; and the jobless rate wasn’t much brighter for our ‘cream of the crop’ high achievers, either. 


The net unemployment rate for 15-19-year-olds in the year to December was 30.9% [that’s just under 1 in 3 of the cohort ‘not in employment, education or training’ (NEET)] and for the 20-25-year-old bracket, it’s 18.5% [over 1 in 6 NEET]. 
These are people who can’t get a student loan, entry to a course nearby, or a job. 
They’re the people who aren’t here on campus with you this year, out of the kids you might have known at secondary school.

I tried to get figures from SJS and Winz on student hardship unemployment uptake over summer, but had no replies.
This was going to be an article for Nexus, the student paper at Uni of Waikato, but they seem to have lost possession of their testicles and couldn’t find it in their teeny shrivelled hearts to criticise Hekia Parata, a former WSU President, so here it is on g.blog.

Orientation week – clubs day is O-for-oarsome

So, summer is officially over and students are flocking back to universities all over Aotearoa/NZ. Well, unless you’ve been gated by one or more of the fresh new tertiary education policies pushed out by our Minister for Education, What-the-Hekia Parata, over the summer break. (see Holly’s excellent post on that here.)

I’m acclimatising to a new city and a new campus, and thus, here is an O-week post about the Greens on Campus Waikato. We’ve already met for some KOA action (of which others have posted much more than I this summer, so I won’t go over it again) and we’re just starting on the new “I’m in for the future” campaign to run through 2013.

They’re a keen bunch; Waikato holds the record for sustainability initiatives being put in place earlier than any other campus in Aotearoa/NZ, has some of the flashest recycling bins scattered around the campus I’ve seen anywhere, and environmental science/common sense is ingrained in the University administration.
Looky here, a whole page about the environment on the academic website!

So when campus Greens said they wanted to erect a geodesic dome, WSU said, “sure”.

Cath with the domebuilders

Cath with the domebuilders

From the inside

From the inside

The stall was not adjacent to the dome, which is made of recycled coreflute billboards from the 2011 election campaign, so there was a bit of to-ing and fro-ing to keep checking on it and answering questions from bystanders.

Greens on Campus co-convenors Theresa and Amy had organised a really good stall kit, and as we set up at 9am, it all went up very quickly. ‘Many hands make light work’ was truly the order of the day as first the stall, then the geodesic dome were set up.

It was our privilege to have Green MP Cath Delahunty with us for the day, which flew by as we conversed with students, handed out stickers, leaflets and cake, and signed up new and old members to the club.

Cupcakes!

Cupcakes!

stall_people

We even got photographed by the Uni marketing photographer, and this pic went up on the University of Waikato FB page in the ORI 2013 album.
Credit to Stephen Barker/Barker Photography.©The University of Waikato

Uni_PR_stall_team

VSM Bill protest today, organised by NZUSA

Converging on Parliament Grounds from 1:30pm – 2:00pm at Parliament lawn, Wellington.

Join students, MPs and the public to oppose ACT’s Bill to end universal membership of students’ associations, and push for a reasonable alternative to VSM.

Despite thousands of submissions and local and international evidence against it, National are still supporting ACT’s reckless Bill to end universal membership of students’ associations WHILE being irresponsible with how they implement it. They’re throwing student representation, advocacy and services into an unknown environment with a potential 100% loss of income for students’ associations, putting much of what students value and need at our universities and polytechnics at risk.

National should drop their support for this extreme Bill that undermines the student voice and will cut campus culture. They need to stop treating students like a political football every few years on this issue and instead come to a reasonable and enduring compromise on association membership.

Come hear from MPs opposing the Bill and support the reasonable alternatives that National has so far ignored. Be there on the day of the final vote on the Bill to tell them you still don’t want this Bill to pass.

[Re-posting from NZUSA source, onya NZUSA!]

There will be students from Massey Wellington and VUW coming from their respective campuses.

Update:
Here’s some pix from the rally at Parliament.

M@WSA banner, signed by students

M@WSA banner, signed by students


NZUSA co-pres David Do speaking to the crowd

NZUSA co-pres David Do speaking to the crowd


The placards were very witty

The placards were very witty


I particularly liked this one ...

I particularly liked this one ...


PSA pennants flying in support of student services

PSA pennants flying in support of student services


A forest of placards around the statue

A forest of placards around the statue


Gareth Hughes speaking, flanked by Green & Labour MP's

Gareth Hughes speaking, flanked by Green & Labour MP's


Hone Harawira signing the NZUSA letter

Hone Harawira signing the NZUSA letter


NZUSA letter signed by MP's from Green, Labour Maaori and Mana parties

NZUSA letter signed by MP's from Green, Labour Maaori and Mana parties

This was a big day for me, so I won’t make much comment apart from the captions. I did hear some of the closing debates on the final reading of this bill from the public gallery, which was crowded with students and NZUSA exec members, listening with faint horror as their future was sold down the river. Labour ministers made a strong showing against the Bill, National speakers revealing the depth of their antipathy towards education for the masses. Green, Maaori and Mana speeches to the Bill had all passed by the time I got there. If you’re a real keen bean, look them up on Hansard. You can search by date of debate, name of Bill, or keywords.