Joyce and Hayne Get Together on Postgrads
Critic has finally made sense of the changes to postgraduate access to the student allowance scheme, which will prevent all postgraduate students from receiving the allowance. Following a meeting between University of Otago Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne and Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce, Professor Hayne said the University was “reassured” that postgrads would still be able to access the same level of financial support.
Otago’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, Professor Richard Blaikie, said in a statement that the University will continue to monitor the new arrangements and how they will affect the choices of postgrad students. Blaikie stated: “Following the Vice-Chancellor’s discussion with the Minister, we have been given some reassurance that accommodation supplements and other special-circumstances benefits available through the student loans scheme will, in many cases, result in access to similar levels of funding to support living costs.”
While postgrads will be forced to borrow the majority of their funding, the Ministry has finally told Critic that postgrads will still be able to access the Accommodation Supplement, bringing the total cash available to them in line with their current funding under the Student Allowance scheme. A spokeswoman for Joyce said that most students will be able to access a similar level of living costs support, and that “in a situation where a student currently receives a Student Allowance and an Accommodation Benefit [sic], under the change they will very likely be eligible to borrow from the interest-free student loan scheme for their living costs, and receive an Accommodation Supplement. This will offer most students a similar level of living costs support.”
However, students over the age of 24 will suffer a $32 per week reduction in the funding available to them, as they currently receive a higher allowance than younger students.
OUSA Admin Vice-President Jono Rowe spoke out against the changes, telling Critic, “Postgraduate workloads are significant and OUSA would be concerned at any measure that forced postgraduate students to go out and take on additional employment to make up this shortfall. This could elongate postgraduate study, reduce the quality of research being conducted, and in some cases may force some students out of postgraduate study altogether.”
In 2013, it is projected that 5,140 students across the country will be affected by the two major student allowance changes: the 200-week limit and the removal of postgraduate eligibility. In 2011, 506 Otago postgrad students were receiving the student allowance.
While Critic was unable to confirm that Hayne and Joyce did in fact undertake a tandem bike ride during their time together, it couldn’t have hurt Joyce any.