Editorial | Issue 10
Ol’ Uncle John and his bestie Steven Joyce have been making some changes to the student loan and student allowance system. The stupidest change they’ve come up with is to limit the student allowance to four years of study.
Sure, some students who are onto their fifth year are fucking around, failing papers, and unwilling to move on with their lives. But the majority are undertaking serious study: Getting double degrees, or undertaking post-graduate research. Why oh why, Uncle John, would you want to take money away from these students right when they are reaching the end of their studies? Why would you want to undercut their ability to become highly-skilled professionals?
I don’t think you have thought through the consequences of your actions John. This is becoming the overwhelming theme for the second term of the Key government: Policy based on numbers on a page; decisions made on the savings possible without consideration of their real world impacts.
They have made other changes too, designed to save a whopping $60 million per year for the government. This when they are already $1 billion further away from getting back into surplus than they thought they were. Tinkering around the edges of programs is not going to change the government’s financial position. Do not believe for a second that they are making these changes to balance the budget, or to save the student loan system. These changes are based on the ideology of the free market; on a flawed sense of morality that says “we got a free education, but you guys better pay for yours, because we don’t want higher taxes now that we’ve made our money.”
It seems that students are under assault from all sides this week. The government has fast-tracked plans to change the drinking age. The most likely result is a split-age system, whereby 18-year-olds will be able to drink in a bar, but will not be able to purchase alcohol from an off-license. I don’t know how I feel about this. The consumption huge amounts of alcohol by young people is worrying: I regret how much I drank when I was 18, and I wish that it had been both harder to get and better supervised – which is a pretty good case for the split age. But at the same time, if you can vote, marry, have children, and go to war, what right does the government have to prevent you from having a drink at the time and place of your choosing? Regardless of any of this, there may be a fascinating cultural change at Otago next year, with freshers unable to drink in halls, and second-years on Castle having to bribe older mates to buy their beers for them.
And while I am here: If you’re bothering to read the editorial, and to the very end no less, you’re obviously quite an avid reader of Critic. Or you’re bored and sitting in a takeaway. Regardless, I want you to get more involved with Critic. If something ticks you off, write a letter. If something really gets you going, write a diatribe. We are your student mag, and we do actually want to hear what you think.
– Joe Stockman