Sereana Naepi, Kate Jack, Nathan Rew & Chelsea Naepi

University of Auckland

This research project compared the cost of undertaking study at a New Zealand university using data collected over six months in 2021. The research undertakes statistical analyses of 730 students’ income, hours worked, spending on housing and transport and study-related costs, as well as student debts, to examine variations in the cost of study for different demographic groups, levels of study and different types of enrolment and study (for example, by distance, international students and fields of study).

The analysis shows there are differences in the cost of studying for different demographics including a range of ethnicities and gender. This briefing uses the initial summary of findings from this data. Future research exploring different demographic experiences with the costs of going to university will be released in due course. 

Key policy implications:

  • Post-graduate student allowances should be re-instated to minimise the increased risk of high debt levels for graduate students
  • Fares free public transport would eliminate inequities in transports expenses
  • Greater regulatory control and subsidies to student housing providers, including  housing and accommodation for families would minimise the impact of this substantial proportion of students’ expenses
  • University stipends available to post-graduate students should be raised to support those in higher levels of study and reduce student debt.
  • Student allowances provided by Studylink should be increased and eligibility for these widened to avoid high levels of student loan living costs or private loan debts.
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