Students who left their residential colleges for lockdown got $200 per week as a residential fee rebate. This was an increase of $80 from the initial rebate, agreed to after OUSA met with the University to put students’ concerns forward.
The original amount the University offered students was $120 per week, but they increased the rebate once NZUSA and Chloë Swarbrick started raising concerns about how students were being treated nationally. On 26 May, after a meeting between OUSA, David Thomson and Sharon Van Turnhout, the University agreed to increase the rebate from $120 per week to $200 per week. The rebate was available either until the student returned to their residential college or until the end of first semester.
“As soon as we raised it with them, David and Sharon came back and told us they were planning on increasing the rebate to $200,” said Jack Saunders, OUSA’s Residential Representative. “The University was fine to increase the rebate, as they were the ones that put forward the initial offer.”
“We always held the stance that students shouldn’t be paying for a service they aren’t receiving,” Jack said. “While a small portion of students expressed to us their concern that the rebate wasn’t good enough, a lot of what we based our response off was from our discussions with NZUSA talking about trying to align with their national stance in conjunction with Chloë Swarbrick’s work in this space.”
“[The Uni] elaborated and said that this was the maximum they could do given the circumstances, which we challenged initially but then came to the conclusion that actually it was a very reasonable increase.”
OUSA’s concern in the meeting was that a portion of the rebate should be for compassionate reasons, as many students could not afford to continue paying full fees. The Uni’s position was that they would pass on the savings from not providing food and consumables to the students in their colleges.
“I think everyone was stoked with the outcome,” said Jack. “We think that it’s just an extra weight off of people’s shoulders on top of an already stressful time, and it meant that students could go into the exam period without as big of a financial burden looming over them.”
He also noted that some students, who did not financially need the rebate, had passed on their $200 per week rebate to the Pūtea Tautoko fund as a donation.
The University confirmed the increase in the residential rebate.