Students going without food, sanitary products - study

Unitec Institute of Technology's 'U Matter' survey found two-thirds of students considered dropping out due to financial ...
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Unitec Institute of Technology's 'U Matter' survey found two-thirds of students considered dropping out due to financial pressures.

A third of tertiary students in an Auckland-based study say at times they go without food and hygiene products because they cannot afford them.

The study, by Unitec Institute of Technology, released on Tuesday, found many of the 1964 students surveyed were struggling to meet basic needs. 

Because of this, two-thirds said they had "seriously considered" dropping out of study due to financial or work-study-life pressures.

More than half of the Unitec students surveyed said they didn't earn enough money to meet their living costs over the ...
TOM DILLANE/FAIRFAX NZ

More than half of the Unitec students surveyed said they didn't earn enough money to meet their living costs over the past year.

For Maori the rates were even higher, with half having considered withdrawing before completing their courses. 

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Unitec's "U Matter" survey canvassed students in 2016.

NZUSA president Jonathan Gee said tertiary study should be "a way out of poverty, not a way into it."
FAIRFAX NZ

NZUSA president Jonathan Gee said tertiary study should be "a way out of poverty, not a way into it."

More than half of those surveyed were adults upskilling, changing careers or having their first go at formal qualifications. One in three had at least one financially-dependant child. 

Despite cash flow from loans, family or earnings, one in three students said they had to forgo food and hygiene products because they could not afford them.

Some had to choose between basic meals or printing assignments. 

The survey found 55 per cent did not have enough income to meet their living costs at some stage in the past 12 months. More than two-thirds of Maori students surveyed (68 per cent) expressed the same struggle. 

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New Zealand Union of Students' Association (NZUSA) national president Jonathan Gee said the survey results showed the cost of study was a "huge disincentive" for many to continue with tertiary education. 

"Tertiary study should be a way out of poverty, not a way into it," he said. 

NZUSA's recent Income and Expenditure Report found a third of students did not have enough income to meet their basic needs, showing the situation was getting worse, Gee said. 

"Student hardship has reached breaking point."

Gee said that was particularly the case for students who were the first in their families to reach tertiary study, and for those living in Auckland.

NZUSA are calling for the Student Allowance (including Accommodation Benefit) to be raised to $218 per week.

It would then "at least cover the rent of the 40 per cent of tertiary students living in Auckland," Gee said.

 - Stuff

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