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Salient. Victoria University Students Newspaper. Volume 38, No 1. March 4, 1975

Some estimates of student costs of living

Some estimates of student costs of living.

It is useful, both for students planning their budgets and for administrators debating the level of student bursaries, to have broad estimates of student income and expenditure. There are dangers in constructing such estimates of course - the 'average' student is a mythical beast, and individual situations may vary widely. However, since bursaries are paid on an across-the-board basis average figures do have some meaning.

The figures given here are estimates for first and second year students living away from home. As fifty per cent of full-time students at Victoria live at home, this may appear to be a biased sample. However, most of the board and food costs have to be paid by someone anyway - 1973 and given an inflation boost since then. Fees are a rounded figure of Vic's $30.50.

On the income side there is even greater diversity among students, Vacation savings clearly depend on the sorts of jobs available and the living expenses of students during the 'holidays'. As many students stay board-free at home, actual savings are greater than these figures but, again, the cost of board is in fact a subsidy paid by parents to students - and more easily paid by middle class than lower class parents. Another point worth noting is the heavy discrimination against female students - while expenses are similar income is far lower. Relatively lucrative labouring jobs do not seem to attract quite as many females as males.

Bursaries consist of Fees and Allowances plus Boarding Allowance be it the student or parents so series such as these give an indication of expenses incurred by all students during the academic year. An important point stemming from this living at home category is that middle-class parents are in much better positions to subsidise students than working-class parents.

Commenting briefly on some of the entries:

Board and food is based on a 31 week academic year for hostels and somewhat longer for flats. The former, at $23 a week, which is the present rate for Vic hostels, and the latter from estimates of the Accommodation Service, both work out at around $700.

The books, travel and general expenses are based on NZUSA survey data for 1969, revised for (as we are assuming that the student is living away from home.) These are the bursaries that would be replaced by the standard tertiary bursary, so it is useful considering their present value.

In summary the size of the deficits, especially for women and first year students, gives very great grounds for concern. There is the possibility of parental financial contribution to cover these, either directly or indirectly as in board payments. As was mentioneded above however, there are considerable inequalities inherent in this situation, particularly discriminating against working-class students

We must remember that these are averages and estimates - individual cases may vary widely. Insofar as they are reasonable guides to the financial situation of students, the need for a drastic revision of the bursary structure is apparent.

First year Second year Male Female Male Female Board, food etc. $ 700 $ 700 $ 700 $ 700 Books 75 75 100 100 General 325 300 350 320 Travel 60 60 60 60 Fees 30 30 30 30 $1 190 $1 165 $1 240 $1 210 Vacation savings 360 150 400 200 Bursaries 530 530 575 575 Total Income 890 680 975 775 Total Expenditure 1 190 1 165 1 240 1 210 Net Deficit $ 300 $ 485 $ 265 $ 435

Expenditure and Income Estimates for 1975.

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Have you seen this man?

Have you seen this man?

The National Executive of the New Zealand University Students' Association met the Minister of Education, Mr Amos, on February 14 to put its case for increases in students' bursaries.

The meeting followed months of discussions between NZUSA and Mr Amos' departmental advisers and virtually mailbags full of letters between the Minister and NZUSA, local university students' associations and individual students.

'We went into the meeting expecting that the Minister would be able to give us definite assurance of speedy action to raise students' bursaries'. VUWSA President Lisa Sacksen told Salient. .

'But we were sadly disappointed. Mr Amos knew nothing about our case. He would not give us any firm promises of government action to raise students' bursaries. All he offered us was his sympathy and his 'hope' that something might be done soon. Students can't live on Mr Amos' sympathy forever, we must demand government action . . . now!

The NZUSA National Executive were asking Mr Amos for two things.

Firstly, they wanted to know when the Labour Government plans to introduce the new bursary system it promised in its 1972 Election manifesto. According to a confidential paper prepared by the Education Department (which was sent to NZUSA last August) the new bursary system would give full-time students a cost-of-living allowance of $28 a week for students over 20 during the academic year. Present bursary allowances such as fees, fees and allowances and boarding allowances would be incorporated into the new cost-of-living bursary.

The new bursary system would give students much higher allowances than they get at the moment. However, although the new bursary system was promised as long ago as 1972, the Labour Government has failed to take any positive action to implement this new bursary system before the end of its first term in office, i.e. November 1975.

The history of the delays NZUSA has experienced in its dealings with the government on the standard tertiary bursary scheme is printed elsewhere on this page.

Lisa Sacksen told Salient that the NZUSA National Executive asked Mr Amos when the standard tertiary bursary scheme was likely to be implemented.

'He said he 'hoped' that something might be in the Budget this year. However, on questioning Mr Amos revealed that he disagreed with several points in the Education Department's paper on the new bursary scheme. So the situation we're in is that we simply do not know what the government is proposing. We're right back to square one.'

In October Mr Amos told NZUSA that the new bursary scheme would not be introduced from the beginning of 1975 due to the economic situation. So NZUSA immediately presented a case to the government for increases in present levels of bursary assistance.

NZUSA's case for an immediate increase in students' bursaries asks the government for three things.

(1)An increase in the level of Boarding Allowances paid to students, to come into effect from the beginning of the 1975 academic year. Coupled with this increase the present bursary regulations should be changed to allow students living away from home in their parents' home town to receive the boarding allowance.
(2)Special grants should be made available, on a permanent basis, to the universities to pay for costs of consumable materials, travel, etc. for certain courses such as fine arts at Canterbury and Auckland and Lincoln courses which involve field trips. This proposal was one of the points included in the Education Department's paper on the new bursary scheme. NZUSA wants it implemented immediately.
(3)The current hardship allowances which are provided for in the bursary regulations should be made available as a special allowance for female students. NZUSA's investigations into the incomes of students have always found that female students are particularly disadvantaged because of lower pay during the university vacation due to sexual discrimination by employers.

Mr Amos expressed some surprise at the rapid increases in costs of fees at university hostels around the country,' Lisa Sacksen told Salient. 'His surprise at these costs and at the difficulties students are facing finding accommodation all over the country show how out of touch he is with students' needs.'

'The Minister didn't seem at all concerned about the particular hardship faced by women students. He couldn't see that women students can't get the higher paying jobs and that employers are dragging their feet in implementing equal pay.

'Finally, Mr Amos told us that his departmental officers would start investigating our case for increases immediately.

The point is, however, that his departmental officers were presented with our case five months' ago. Students who are uncertain about whether they've got enough money to return to university have been put in an impossible position by this government. We still don't know if we can expect any increases in bursaries and the blame for that rests squarely on the Minister of Education's shoulders.

'Students have been patient with the government about bursaries for nearly two years now. I think it's time we showed a bit of impatience and told the government that unless it takes immediate action on bursaries students won't be rushing to the polls to vote for the Labour Party in November.'