Lack of increase in 2018 budget not concerning, say AUT staff and students

May 18, 2018

Lack of increase in 2018 budget not concerning, say AUT staff and students

Students at AUT unfazed by lack of tertiary education investment in 2018 budget. Photo: Imogen Wells

Staff and students across AUT’s campuses say they are not concerned with a lack of investment into the tertiary education sector in this year’s budget.

Health, transport and education were yesterday’s big winners in Labour’s 2018 budget announcement.

However, polytechnics and universities received no increases in government subsidies.

Predictions in the weeks leading up to the budget were that Labour's fees-free scheme would prevent the Government spending more on tertiary institutions because the first year of the policy has already cost $260 million.

Both positive and negative impacts of the zero-fees policy have been felt across AUT. A number of government scholarships have been cut as a result of the investment, including the First in Family scholarship for those who are first in their family to attend university.

Despite missing out on a mention in the budget, students at AUT university say they had no expectations of the budget so were not concerned with the outcome.

“I don’t think the universities need any more funding. I hope that all the money students are paying to go to university is actually going towards the university," says second-year communications student Moira Murphy.

Ms Murphy says she would like to see more investment into the mental-health sector.

“I hope mental health facilities, especially for young people, would get more money out of that because we do have the biggest youth-suicide rate in the First World. It’s pretty hard for people to get appointments and the health they need.”

The students Te Waha Nui spoke to say increases in student living costs at the beginning of this year was enough for them, but that a review of the student allowance system is well overdue because it is based on how much parents earn.

“My parents earn too much for me to get the allowance but I actually don’t get supported by them.”

The lack of concern found across AUT is not mirrored by the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations, which says there are still issues students face that need to be addressed.

Jonathan Gee, national president of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA), says the tertiary education sector is well overdue for a funding boost and all eyes should now be on next year’s budget.

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