NZ Union of Students Associations (NZUSA)
The New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations advocates for the common and collective concerns of tertiary students in Aotearoa New Zealand.
We believe everyone in Aotearoa New Zealand should have access to a universal, accessible tertiary education system ready to support their dreams whether they choose university, polytechnic or trades training.
We believe education is empowering, enlightening and liberating for individuals and our society. Education is inherently good for Aotearoa New Zealand and crucial to the strength, cohesion and advancement of our communities and democracy. NZUSA believes that tertiary education should be a right and not a privilege, and therefore, advocates for equal access and opportunity for all.
We are proudly owned by students’ associations from universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics around the country. We act as the voice of 400,000 students across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Universal Education Income / Te Rourou Matanui-a-Wānanga1) STUDENTS ARE IN POVERTY Right now, tertiary students are in poverty. The poverty that students experience is a result of years of successive governments eroding the financial support that tertiary students have access to. The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the economic vulnerability that students face. Students have lost the part time jobs that provided essential weekly income to cover weekly expenses like rent, power and food. Many of the jobs that students in the gig economy, tourism and hospitality disappeared overnight, too early for them to be rehired by their employer to qualify for the Wage Subsidy. The Tertiary Support Package announced by the Government on 14 April 2020 fails to address this poverty. Increasing the amount of course related costs for domestic full-time students from $1,000 to $2,000, only increases student debt, and fails to provide relief in the areas of hardship that students face, simply because this money is not able to be spent on accommodation or food costs. It is also unable to be accessed by part-time students, many of whom relied on employment, they now don’t have, to make ends meet. One student says: “...I don’t know what to do, I’m barely managing to pay my rent, I can’t pay power, I can’t afford nutritional food, I can’t even afford to buy warm clothes now that it’s getting colder. I don’t have much in the way of clothes as it is and most don’t fit me anymore. I spend more time in bed trying to keep warm because of lack of clothes and not being able to afford power.” 2) STUDENT DEBT CRISIS We have a student debt crisis in New Zealand. Student debt in New Zealand continues to climb to unprecedented levels, surpassing $16 billion this year despite the student loan scheme being introduced in 1992. For students who borrow living costs on top of course fees, in order to survive while they study, effectively double their student loan every year. The student debt crisis impacts the lives of prospective students, current students and graduates. It creates a significant barrier that deters many prospective students from accessing the opportunities post-secondary education provides, especially from lower socio-economic communities. Money should not determine one’s ability to further their education. Research shows that student debt places harmful mental pressures on current students, affecting their wellbeing, academic performance and political participation. Upon completing their tertiary studies, research highlights that graduates experience the full weight of their crippling student debt when 12.5% of the income is deducted each week, and their ability to start a family, buy their first home or travel overseas is greatly restricted for many years after graduation. Students are being buring in debt before they even get started. Students should not be forced to take on a debt sentence to access education that will benefit communities across Aotearoa. 3) EDUCATION IS THE KEY TO THE RECOVERY Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that “education will be key to our economic recovery”. We agree. However, the week-to-week cost of being a tertiary student is a barrier for many people wanting to begin studying for the first time or re-train, especially given that many people have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. This is especially the case for people with dependents, or people who are already vulnerable in our society. Donna, a full-time nursing student and solo mother is one of these students who is just scraping by. In a few years, Donna should be a qualified nurse, saving New Zealanders lives and contributing to New Zealand’s economy. She won’t achieve her dreams without additional government support. For education to be universally accessible, we must have a universally accessible system of support. SUPPORTED BY New Zealand Union of Students' Associations, Te Mana Ākonga and Tauira Pasifika PROOF THAT A UNIVERSAL EDUCATION INCOME IS ACHIEVABLE? In response to the hardship that tertiary students in Canada have experienced from COVID-19, the Canadian Government has implemented an equivalent Student Benefit of $1,250 per month for eligible students and $1,750 for students with dependents or disabilities. The tertiary education policy of New Zealand First and the Green Party both include a universal student allowance, which is the equivalent of Universal Education Income / Te Rourou Matanui-a-Wānanga. REFERENCES AND MORE INFORMATION: ‘Why increasing student debt is not a support package’ https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/16-04-2020/why-increasing-student-debt-is-not-a-support-package/ Student Benefit in Canada https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/support-for-students-and-recent-graduates-impacted-by-covid-19.html Tertiary Support Package announced by the Government https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/covid-19-tertiary-student-support-package NZUSA Income and Expenditure Report 2017 http://www.students.org.nz/studentreport NZUSA Kei Te pai? Report 2018 http://www.students.org.nz/mentalhealth Student Loan Scheme Annual Report 2019 https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/series/student_loan_scheme_annual_reports/student-loan-scheme-annual-report-2019 Green Party Tertiary Education Policy https://www.greens.org.nz/tertiary_education_policy New Zealand First Tertiary Education Policy https://policy.nz/topic/Education#Tertiary%20Education ‘Crushing student debt is putting students off political action’ https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/shows/2019/09/crushing-student-debt-putting-kids-off-getting-political-author.html Student Debt and Political Participation by Sylvia Nissen https://www.bwb.co.nz/books/student-political-action https://www.palgrave.com/gp/book/9783319963211 Photo: Trinity Thompson-Browne (@trin_tb)5,158 of 6,000 SignaturesCreated by NZ Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA)
Consent Education should be compulsory for First-Year Tertiary StudentsIn a world free from sexual violence, students would be able to learn and achieve, without fear, harm or violence. Students would be able to walk through campus, attend lectures, engage in tutorials, knowing that they are valued, respected, and treated equally. Starting tertiary study is an important time in a young person's life, and sets them up for their entire life course 'pipeline'. When a student faces barriers or trauma during their study, it often has lifelong ripple effects and consequences. Recent research shows that 1 in 3 students will experience sexual harm during study , and this mirrors Thursdays in Black's own findings, which highlighted that over 50% of participants had experienced some form of sexual harm during study . Research on wider populations shows that in Aotearoa, 1 in 3 women, 1 in 6 men, and 1 in 2 transgender people will experience sexual harm. Research also shows that women, Māori, Queer/Takatāpui, and disabled students are at significantly higher risk of experiencing harm in comparison to other identities, and that 90% of sexually harmful situations happen between people that know each other, for example friends, relationships, colleagues, or family. At Thursdays in Black, our vision is to improve these circumstances, by mandating sexual consent education for first years students. This education will empower young people by giving them the skills to navigate and create their own healthy sexual relationships, help prevent harmful behaviours, and contribute to the ongoing culture change of tertiary institutions. By teaching these skills to students aged 17-20, we will be setting them up with a kete of tools that will benefit them throughout their life, and help make our communities safer. Yet at present, there is no legal requirement for tertiary institutions to offer compulsory courses to teach students about sexual consent. New Zealand institutions currently have a fragmented approach to consent education, with different institutions offering different levels of engagement, different approaches, and some with out any programmes at all. At Thursdays in Black, we believe that Aotearoa can do better, and see that implementing such an education policy as not only urgent, but long overdue. We request that the Minister pass legislation requiring tertiary institutions in Aotearoa to provide sexual consent education to all first-year tertiary students. Such education should be a research-based program, created with and facilitated by subject matter experts and the sexual violence sector, it should engage student leaders, operate on a bi-cultural model that upholds Te Tiriti o Waitangi, and reflect an intersectional approach that respects the disproportionate impact sexual violence has on specific groups. Tertiary institutions, for the most part, remain out-dated and traditional in their thinking -- often reinforcing a rape culture of power imbalances, misogyny, and toxicity. This does not make a safe environment for our tertiary students. Help make education safe. Sign the petition today to call on the Minister to implement compulsory consent courses for first-year students. 1. Unpublished Phd Thesis by Kayla Stewart, for a preliminary discussion of her findings, see https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/113090659/a-third-of-women-university-students-report-being-sexually-assaulted-what-do-we-owe-them 2. In 2017, Thursdays in Black Aotearoa conducted a report titled ‘In Our Own Words’, which details the extent to which tertiary students experienced sexual violence prior to, and during, their studies You can find it here: https://library.nzfvc.org.nz/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=5557760 of 800 SignaturesCreated by Jahla Lawrence
Launch an independent inquiry into residential student accommodation1) Firstly, the legislation that governs residential student accommodation is insufficient, confusing, and unclear. Residential student accommodation is not covered by the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA), meaning that in the case of disputes between residents and their accommodation provider, the option of going to the Tenancy Tribunal is not available to them. Relatively, the power imbalance between a tertiary student and a student accommodation provider is much larger than that between individual tenants and landlords. Because of this, we believe that the lack of option of disputes to be heard by the Tenancy Tribunal is damaging to a students’ access to redress. The Interim Code of Practice for Pastoral Care which was introduced in 2019 also makes no real substantive change. Most of the processes specified already encompass what is going on in halls around New Zealand. This piece of legislation was designed to improve pastoral support and is not sufficient to solve the deeper issues raised here. There needs to be more specific legislation governing halls of residence to ensure the safety of students who reside there. The lack of central government regulation creates inconsistent approaches within the system of residential student accommodation. This is not only apparent in different managements of accommodation within a single tertiary provider, but also between tertiary providers. 2) Secondly, the purpose and function of residential student accommodation is unclear and inconsistent. The lack of central government legislation to support the delivery of residential student accommodation blurs the purpose of the service; is it to make the tertiary provider a profit, or is it to provide a service to students to support their education? While some tertiary providers operate their residential student accommodation services to not make a profit, other tertiary providers appear to use residential student accommodation for the purpose of money making. Often this is done in partnership with external companies, who own and/or operate the accommodation facilities. The blurred purpose or function of student accommodation is not just limited to halls of residence accommodation for high-school leavers. Irrespective of the type of residential student accommodation (i.e. catered or self-catered accommodation), the overriding purpose and function of residential student accommodation should be the same and should be clear to those using the service. The varying degrees of rental alleviation that residential students across the country received from their accommodation providers during Levels 3 and 4 of the COVID-19 lockdown has sharply highlighted how inconsistent the sector is, and raises questions around who the setup is designed to benefit. 3) Thirdly, student welfare and support within residential student accommodation is limited and inconsistent, for both staff and residents. Student welfare and pastoral care within residential student accommodation is largely delivered by Residential Assistants (RAs). RAs receive very limited remuneration (if any), often work more hours than they are paid for, and despite trying to do their best in difficult situations, receive very limited training or support. This has a flow-on effect to residents, who often do not receive the necessary support to deal with issues that arise. The type of work that RAs do can be equated to the job of a Youth Worker, but without the training and salary. Almost all of their weekly paycheck goes towards paying their accommodation fees, meaning they are left with little money at the end of it, if any at all. Furthermore, an overwhelming proportion of RAs are students themselves, and the burden of responsibility on them to support hundreds of other students through often difficult circumstances, with little to no higher support for themselves, lays bare the harrowing ordeals that these providers put them through. Incidents of sexual harassment in halls of residence, and the lack of pastoral support to students who are struggling with mental health, have demonstrated the inadequacy of ongoing training and support provided to these students placed in positions of pastoral care. Currently, there is little to no legislation protecting RAs. There are also no guidelines for other supports for residents at student accommodations, such as Student Support Coordinators (SSCs). This means that often SSCs are assigned more than one hall, and more than a thousand students. The quality of their work therefore is lowered, as they are stretched out in capacity. We call on the Education and Workforce Select Committee to conduct an independent inquiry into the purpose and operations of residential accommodation in Aotearoa, and the legislation that governs it. This inquiry should be broad in scope, examining the investment and funding models, the cost of accommodation for residents, the legal protections for residents, and support structures for residents.425 of 500 SignaturesCreated by NZ Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA)
Restore the postgraduate student allowance nowIn 2013, the previous Government scrapped postgraduate allowances. Last year, Labour pledged to bring them back, and NZ First and the Greens have also shown their support. Now, we're looking for a start date! Restoring the postgraduate allowance isn't just good for students, it's good for the country. Across Aotearoa, postgraduate students are studying in fields that are crucial to our country's future success - clinical psychology, teaching and learning, and environmental studies to name a few. The current Government is committed to important national issues such as addressing the mental health crisis, uplifting the teaching profession and tackling climate change. In order for this work to succeed, we urgently need to be empowering and supporting our people to gain skills in these areas. A postgraduate student allowance is an easy first step towards making this a reality. Supporting postgraduate success is supporting our country's success. We're calling on the Government to restore the postgraduate student allowance now! No post-grad allowances for first semester, no set start date http://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2017/11/no-post-grad-allowances-for-first-semester-and-no-set-start-date.html5,690 of 6,000 SignaturesCreated by NZ Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA)
Record our classes in response to COVID-19➡️PLEASE RECORD ALL OUR CLASSES Please record all our classes, lecturers, tutorials and workshops. ➡️PLEASE MAKE ALTERNATIVE ARRANGEMENTS WHERE RECORDING IS REALLY NOT POSSIBLE We understand that not all classes can be recorded. We’re not talking about classes that are best taught in a face-to-face context, because we know that showing up to class is the best option. We are talking about laboratories, practical courses and trades classes that for reasons of practicality are not able to be recorded. Alternative arrangements could look like: 1) Rearranging the course schedule so that all physical workshops and laboratories are taught in an intensive block period once the progression of COVID-19 has slowed. 2) Putting all course materials, including readings and additional materials online. 3) Adjusting the assessments or the assessment schedule so that students do not have to be physically present in classes. This could include relaxing requirements about physical assessment hand-ins. ➡️PLEASE SUPPORT STUDENTS Class recordings alleviate inequity in our community, as they ensure that students who need to self-isolate for personal reasons are not punished for doing so. However, there are issues that need to be catered for. This includes making financial and practical support available to students and staff who do not have access to the internet or a device. It also means continuing to pay ALL staff, including those on casual contracts such as students who work as tutors, demonstrators or research assistants. If classes are cancelled, teaching staff should be supported to record classes off campus, or host classes over Zoom. We would also appreciate increased availability and monitoring of hand sanitizers, soap and clean paper towels on campus to prevent the spread of germs. We understand that there are financial limitations to the tertiary sector recording all classes. We strongly encourage you to collaborate and work together, and to support smaller institutions in your region. In a public health crisis like this, it is far better for everyone to work together. Ngā manaakitanga, New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations Te Mana Ākonga Tauira Pasifika Auckland University Students’ Association Massey University Students’ Association Albany Students’ Association Otago University Students’ Association Student Connection Weltec and Whitireia Students Association at Wintec Lincoln University Students’ Association Victoria University of Wellington Students’ Association Massey University of Wellington Students’ Association Waikato Students' Union908 of 1,000 SignaturesCreated by NZ Union of Students' Associations (NZUSA)