Students wonder how they'll cope
Postgraduate students say the axing of student allowances is a backward step for those already studying more than 60 hours a week.
The Press calculated that a student working a minimum-wage job at $13.50 an hour before tax would need to work at least 20 hours a week to compensate for the $240 weekly student allowance, which will be cut next year.
Students can still apply for a living-cost loan, currently capped at $172.51 a week, and an accommodation supplement.
Lincoln University assistant vice-chancellor Sheelagh Matear said postgraduate students were recommended to devote at least 40 hours a week to study.
"Many students will be studying more than this, particularly at times when they are running experiments or conducting fieldwork for their honours dissertations," she said.
Fifth-year clinical psychology student Heather Gordon, 35, spends more than 60 hours a week on her studies.
She spends every day between 8am and 6pm at Canterbury University, not including extra reading or travelling to meet participants in her studies.
"I worked between 20 and 30 hours a week my whole undergraduate career," she said.
"I had a job to pay the bills, but my grades suffered as a result. It is a sacrifice you need to make.
"But now I cannot physically work.
"I do not have the time and that is the time the student allowance is being taken away. That seems backwards to me."
Matear said more than half of Lincoln's postgraduate students had some form of paid work last year.
"It is possible [to work] but this does mean some long hours in a week. Where possible, work that is aligned with the area of study is preferable, but this isn't always possible," she said.
An Education Ministry spokesman said more than 85 per cent of postgraduate students did not receive a student allowance before the changes were announced.
"Depending on their accommodation costs and living circumstances, many postgraduate students who are affected by this change will become eligible for the accommodation supplement," he said.
"This provides a higher rate of accommodation support than the accommodation benefit which student allowance recipients can receive."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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