Well-articulated rant #2

19 Jun
This week, ElevenHoursAhead will be publishing the thoughts of current and former students on the real value of the student allowance system. Here is today’s personal reflection from Hannah Mackintosh:

In 2004 I finished my Bachelor of Arts. I found myself in a position where I was considered barely employable. The resounding response that I got was, “you have a BA, what does that mean you can offer us?” So I left New Zealand in search of more opportunities. I volunteered and lived overseas for three and a half years. I couldn’t see any opportunities for me in New Zealand. Here, I was considered over-educated for ‘un-skilled’ jobs and inexperienced for ‘skilled’ positions. I was unemployable.

In Melbourne, I was offered a job at Amnesty International Australia. While working there I made several observations. The first was that people worked really, really hard, often putting in far more hours than their contracts stated because there was so much work to be done and they believed in what they were doing. The second was that in order to move into the more skilled positions (e.g. research and management positions) in the Organisation you needed to have a postgraduate degree. Finally, I noticed that many of my colleagues were doing their Master’s degrees part time on top of working full time at Amnesty. As a result, their lives were entirely taken up by work and study and their post-graduate degrees often took them up to five years for a two-year degree. They were also stressed and over-worked.

As someone who is fairly ambitious I realised that it was essential for me to get a Master’s degree to be eligible for the types of jobs that I wanted to get. The Student Allowance gave me the opportunity to achieve that. I received $230 a week and worked part time. As a result I completed my Masters in the two year timeframe and am now working as the Coordinator of the Wellington Timebank.

Part of the reason why I left New Zealand was because there were no opportunities for me here. Part of the reason why I came back to New Zealand was because I knew that I could be supported to do my Master’s here. I have not left New Zealand since. In my eyes, cutting Student Allowances for post-graduate degrees (which have become essential for getting many jobs in the work force) will only lead to more young kiwis heading overseas as New Zealand becomes a land of less opportunity for them.


2 Responses to “Well-articulated rant #2”

  1. LVN June 20, 2012 at 9:04 am #

    Removing student allowance still leaves the student able to borrow living costs. Its a bit less, but if you are contemplating full time study and $30 a week will bankrupt you, maybe you should work a little longer.

    There are those of us who never qualified for the student allowance, have loans twice the size of yours, and are not complaining. We just say “welcome to the majority, where university is expensive and a privilege”

    If you can’t answer the question “You want us to pay you a large amount of money for your time, given your qualification, what can you offer” you have either an inflated sense of the qualification or don’t know what you can offer. Some time and reflection might serve.

    Its not like there really could be a totally unemployable degree out there, could there?

    Of course there is, which is why a critical thinking prospective student takes some time to look at where they might be employed. If you didn’t do that, or did see the degree was unemployable, don’t even try to complain.

    • Danielle June 24, 2012 at 4:17 am #

      Why should someone face debt to be educated, when they will, if staying in the country, be contributing much more in tax than what the government pays to educate them?
      It is stressful enough to be studying full time without worrying about an additional loan. We should have a loan write-off system like in Australia, and we should not accept tertiary education to be an inevitable privilege-it should not be this way.

      There are very few degrees that aren’t useful, because there are many career options a degree can help you to do. Our government simply does not care about new job creation.

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