Students to get $350 weekly allowance?

Remember how Labour trumped National on the eve of the last election with its interest-free student loan policy? Colin Espiner wrties in The Press today (not yet on line) that another student election bribe is in the wind.

It is understood Labour is considering a massive boost to the student allowance scheme, including a payment of some $350 a week for study courses of 35 hours a week or more. That would put student allowances far ahead of any other standard benefit payment. It would cost a lot of money, but may not have the same impact as interest-free loans did in 2005.

Students and student politicians might think this is a good thing and they may be able to make a case for a small increase. But a $350 a week allowance, so much higher than any other benefit,  is not the best use of money in the over-stretched education budget.

Students and their representatives put a lot of energy into crying poor, but instead of worrying about loans and allowances they ought to be worrying about the quality of their education.

Every dollar that goes to a student allowance or interest free loan, is a dollar less for teachers and teaching resources. Improving those would be better use of taxpayers dollars than an over-generous student allowance scheme.

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13 Responses to Students to get $350 weekly allowance?

  1. How irresponsible and desperate can Liarbour get.
    But see how they target a politically active demographic to buy their vote.
    It worked in 2005 and why not in 2008?
    This cannot be justified economically or even fairly but if it delivers the election to Liarbour, what the heck!

  2. homepaddock says:

    Bad policy but possibly good politics – unless everyone who isn’t a student works out how expensive this will be.

  3. barnsleybill says:

    Your last paragraph suggests that students should look at the bigger picture or greater good. Election bribes are designed to appeal to the venal self interest of the group being targeted. This election will see more of the same from labour.

  4. gomango says:

    Well there’s $4 billion down the drain. Haven’t been able to find good data as I am not at work, but in 2002 there were 320,000 students formally enrolled in tertiary education. Making several heroic assumptions and assuming this is the number in 2009 who would qualify, then you’re talking an annual bill of $3.9 billion. Unbelievable if true and so far beyond any fiscal discipline I think the electorate would, as one, laugh at Michael Cullen.

    If they do announce a package like that will we see calls from Trevour Mallard and Annette King etc demanding to know where Cullen will be making cuts in essential government services to pay for such profligacy?

  5. stef says:

    Actually this policy wouldn’t be as popular as interest-free student loans for one simple reason, voting blocks. There are far more grads with student loans in the system with student loans than students currently studying and in need of an allowance.

  6. homepaddock says:

    Stef – and those grads may now have worked out that paying more tax to subsidise other people’s “free” loans isn’t the best use of their money.

  7. [...] Homepaddock quotes Colin Espiner on what may be Labour’s big bribe: It is understood Labour is considering a massive boost to the student allowance scheme, including a payment of some $350 a week for study courses of 35 hours a week or more. That would put student allowances far ahead of any other standard benefit payment. It would cost a lot of money, but may not have the same impact as interest-free loans did in 2005. [...]

  8. stef says:

    Homepaddock, the same could be send for students already in the system. But the voting block is huge, nearly 500,000 New Zealanders have a student loan.

  9. [...] No thank you. Dear Helen, apprently you intend to offer me $150/week to vote you. [...]

  10. Why is it either or? Why not choose between military funding and giving students a meager living allowance?

  11. Ryan French says:

    So there’s one thing that really needs to be cleared up here. Is it the student ALLOWANCE or the student LIVING COST ALLOWANCE that will be increased. I am a student at the moment, working 2 jobs, and while I live comfortably in Hamilton, I could never afford to live in Auckland on what I earn.

    My parents earn too much for me to get the free money from the government (Studant Allowance), so I have to get a loan of $150 a week from the government (Student Living Cost Allowance). Thats right, a loan, where I have to pay it back, so if it’s that which is getting increased, it’s not really money down the drain, it’s just money that will be temporarily unavailable.

    Many people I know wont go and study purely because it requires you to borrow money to live, and students are the only ones in NZ that have to do this, as far as I know. It’s not a benefit, its a loan that you have to get when wanting to improve yourself…. not cool really.

  12. homepaddock says:

    Ryan: I don’t know which allowance Espiner was referring to but you are right there is a big difference between them.

    Students are not the only ones who have to borrow to live – lots of people in owner operated businesses do. Dairy farmers get monthly cheques but most others have to pay for all their inputs then wait for months for income when they sell stock, wool or crop so need seasonal finance to tide them over.

    In the past year many sheep and beef farmers had 6 figure losses so they’re not only borrowing to live they’re going backwards while doing it.

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