Anglicare Australia and the National Union of Students (NUS) called on the government to take urgent action on student support in next year’s Budget, releasing the results of the inaugural Student Housing Survey.

“More than ever, young people are expected to attend university if they can. But there are massive obstacles for students whose parents can’t afford to support them,” said Anglicare Australia Executive Director Kasy Chambers.

“Students who rely on Youth Allowance or Austudy are struggling to pay rent and make ends meet. And many of those who aren’t eligible have to work so many hours that it is harming their studies.

“Huge numbers of students have told us that Centrelink has paid them incorrectly or sent them a debt notification – even when they are reporting correctly and meeting all the requirements.

“Anglicare agencies work with young people facing major obstacles to study, like those leaving out-of-home care. We’ve known for a long time that income support payments are too low and that Centrelink systems are in urgent need of reform. This survey confirms it,” Ms Chambers said.

The National Union of Students has called for a better deal for students.

“The safety net is failing students at a vulnerable point in their lives,” said Jill Molloy of the National Union of Students.

“Students are being forced into poverty, and many cannot afford basic necessities. 55% of students said that they frequently struggle to buy essential study items like text books.

“Many students are also having negative experiences where they live – 49% told us they were struggling with rent costs.

“If we don’t take action now, we risk becoming a country where only those whose parents can afford to support them will be able to study without living in poverty,” said Ms Molloy.

The Student Housing Survey features responses from 1,985 students. It found that:
– 55% of students are having negative experiences where they live. This includes 49% who are struggling with rent costs and 34% who live in poorly maintained accommodation.
– 89% of students said that they’ve struggled to buy essential study items like text books. This includes 55% who say that they frequently struggle to afford these items.
– 76% of students are in paid work. This includes 64% who work more than ten hours a week, and 19% who work more than 20 hours a week.
– 82% of working students said that the amount of time they spend at work hurts their studies.
– 85% of students do not believe that Centrelink provides them with enough to live and study

The Anglicare-NUS report is available here.

(Source: Anglicare)

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