Broke as shit. Every New Zealand student’s current financial status. Not just broke as shit, but actually – in debt as fuck. The other day, our main source of news had the AUDACITY to post an article on how to minimise student loans. Linked here. The article is so wildly out of touch it is not funny. Clearly written by someone who either did not go to university, or had his parents pay his way.
New Zealand is forcing students into tens of thousands of student debt. Punishing those who will be the leading industry innovators in years to come. Some student debt is normal, but what is not normal is the uncomfortable living situations whilst getting deeper and deeper in debt. I receive $176.86 a week from the government in order to pay for my living costs. As I chose to study at the best university in New Zealand, my living costs are more around $220 a week (if I live very frugally). Rent is $185 a week, +bills (which includes a water bill), + food. My full-time university schedule allows me to have Fridays free. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, I work at my part-time job in retail. Because I have to. Because I am financially independent. I would love to get an unpaid internship in my future field of work – can I? No. I barely have enough time to finish my assignments let alone do anything that is not 100% required.
While I have to supplement my weekly government income, friends I have in Dunedin are living comfortably on $176.86 a week. With rent around the $140 mark, it leaves enough money for bills and some for food. If one worked all summer, a year studying in Otago would be comfortable without a part-time job.
What I propose is, living costs should be geographically based. If studying in Auckland, at least $210 should be the living costs weekly. If students seem comfortable on the current income, leave it as is. This money will come back to the government, it is not gone forever. Bumping up the weekly amount for students to be able to concentrate more on their studies and less on their finances would be a better thing on an individual scale, and on a macro scale.
Auckland housing prices have recently skyrocketed. What this means for students is that renting is becoming more expensive. If you have money to spend on flatting, more often than not, that’s not enough. There aren’t actually enough rentals to go around. It is becoming more common to share rooms with your flatmates than it should be. It is not good enough. Auckland university does not provide any kind of solution to the issue, as they essentially are a money-making machine, not our advocate. In this system I am a number, 6056865. That is all.
Once I was in hospital for an exam, unable to make it. What did UoA do? But fail me for the class, for no reason except to charge me another $800 to retake it, putting my degree back by 6 months. What the system is doing wrong, is pissing students off enough that they leave the country as soon as they graduate, to search for something more fulfilling, where they are noticed and treated accordingly. I know this is already my plan. I do not want to live in a place that only lets the rich get richer. It is despicable.