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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 7. June 23rd, 1948

Student Labour Federation Starts Bursary Campaign

page 5

Student Labour Federation Starts Bursary Campaign

It must have been an almost unique event in the history of this college for members of the college staff and the student body to thrash out, at a meeting of a student club, matters vitally affecting the whole university. This was just what happened at the Socialist Club meeting on 9th June. It was called by circularizing all club members and members of the college staff—in all about 200 people—to discuss the embryonic "Improved National Bursary Scheme" which the New Zealand Student Labour Federation has sent out to all its constituent clubs. Considering this, attendance was poor—only 30 people being present. But most encouraging was the presence of three senior lecturers, and the local S.C.M. chaplain.

From the chair, Harry Evison read letters from the Principal, the Liaison Officer, and other professors and lecturers, who all agreed broadly to the need for an improved bursary scheme. The general opinion was that there should be more financial aid to enable more people to attend university full-time, though they had various extensions and modifications to suggest to the federation's draft scheme. Professor Richardson's chief complaint was that the scheme was a "modified Australian scheme" and not a New Zealand one.

Harold Dowrick, President of the N.Z.S.L.F., answered this objection in his introduction of the scheme. He pointed out that when visiting Australia this year, he and Ron Smith had been very impressed by the Commonwealth Federal Assistance Scheme, which was far more adequate and less complicated than the schemes working in New Zealand.

By far the best work in the university, from all viewpoints, is done by full-time students. Many people who deserve a university education have not the cash to attend full time. The obvious source of funds is the Government, which must be urged to provide more bursaries.

A Unified Scheme

The bursaries and other sources of financial assistance that we have are unnecessarily complex, and are urgently in need of rationalization. There is no overall planning and many students do not know what bursaries are available in the various faculties.

The federation's scheme did not pretend to perfection, but it does claim to obviate these more obvious shortcomings in the present system. In essence, it suggested replacing all present bursaries at the undergraduate level with 1000 national bursaries per annum, sufficient to keep students fully during the term.

Details, such as the distribution among faculties, the application of, a means test, and an age limit, and the suggestion that bursaries should be granted only to students straight from school, were at once seized on by speakers from the floor.

There had been some confusion in the draft proposals between undergraduate assistance, and post graduate scholarships and research grants. Dr. Beaglehole thought there was no need to worry about the latter, except insofar as they were overweighted in favour of the mechanical sciences. It was sufficient, but internally disproportionate. But it was undergraduate bursaries that the scheme purported to deal with, and mention of altogether different matters weakened the case.

Some Suggestions

One club member was most insistent on the removal of the means test from the scheme. He claimed that many wealthier parents do not want to give a university education to their children. Bursaries should be universally available, to create an economic independence from parents of this type. Mr. Dowrick replied that any government would niggle at an all-embracing scheme with no limits and that a means test would probably be necessary to get government approval.

Another member suggested the addition of demands for transport concessions for students, and the extension of family benefits for students up to 21, but these were dropped in favour of concentration on a single object.

Finally a resolution took shape.

Moved by Mr. A. McLeod, and seconded by Mr. O. Melting:

"That this meeting of the V.U.C. Socialist Club approve the principle of the N.Z.S.L.F's. National Bursary Scheme, while maintaining reservation on details, and recommends the N.Z.S.L F. Executive to publicize the scheme." The motion was carried unanimously.

It was then decided that the executives of the Socialist Club and the federation together should carry out further research for the purpose of finalizing the scheme, taking into account the suggested amendments put forward at the meeting. A motion to this effect was carried.

In the meantime, copies of the draft proposals have been sent to the other constituent clubs of N.Z.S.L.F., so that they can chew it over in the same way as we have done. The executive of the Socialist Club hopes that the scheme will be discussed at a general meeting of the association sometime this year. If it is to succeed, the support of every student will be required.