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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 13, No. 10. June 1st, 1950

More and bigger bursaries

More and bigger bursaries

Even before Capping Day last when Mr. Holland sprang on an unwary public the news of his latest efforts to make the pound buy more, the economic position of students, as of wage-[unclear: earners,] was lukewarm. The official Abstract of Statistics for 1948/59 showed that the proportion of the National Income going to the wage and salary earners had dropped by 14 per cent, at compared with 1938/89, and trade unions were asking for a general increase in wages. Similarly, at Easter Conference of the N.Z. University Students' Association this year, requests for an increase in Junior and Senior Scholarships to meet rising living costs, was added to a revival of the 1948 Bursary Scheme proposed by the New Zealand Student Labour Federation.

In that year, the S.L.F. National Executive put forward a proposal for an "Improved and Rationalised Bursary Scheme." It began by reviewing the current position. Even then. Ordinary National Bursaries £20 p.8., 2342 granted in 1947); Boarding Bursaries (£50 p.a.); Special Bursaries (£40 p.a., 165 granted in 1947 including Medical and Dental bursaries; Secondary Teachers' Bursaries were added; numbers granted have been reduced); University National and Junior Scholarships (formerly £60 p.a., about 40 granted); and the research and other post-graduate scholarships, were felt to be inadequate in themselves as well as complicated as a whole.

A living allowance

It was pointed out that Sir David Smith had said (January 17, 1946): "There seems to be to be an obligation upon the University to explore ways and means of ensuring that students are free to devote their whole time during college terms to University work." And California's Dean McHenry, at that time visiting New Zealand, had said: "... I have grave doubts that part-time education is the best method of learning."

Following the year, the "lost generation" had the chance of wholesale hand-outs in the form of Rehab, bursaries. They were dwindling off in 1948, and are negligible today. "The N.Z.S.L.F.," its Executive announced at the time, "is of the opinion that the time has come to introduce a scheme for the oncoming generations of civilian students. The money that was found so readily to pursue the arts of war must now be found to pursue the arts of peace."

After some reference to the Australian Commonwealth Financial Assistance Scheme, granting full-time living allowances of £117 or £156 (depending on whether the student lives at home or not) to students straight from school, the Federation suggested that a similar scheme might replace the present bursary muddle in New Zealand.

They proposed:—
"(1)That there [unclear: be] awarded annually, on the basis of the same means test as is used in Australia (adjusted family [unclear: income] of £250), and on the basis of the University Entrance Examination or accrediting results, a total of say 1000 bursaries to replace the present special bursaries and junior and national scholarships.

That such bursaries be awarded to full-time students on the basis of a quota to faculties such as for example the following: Agriculture 120, Arts 300, Commerce 170, Dental and Medical 100, Engineering 60, Science 130, All Others 130.

"These figures have been calculated on the basis of the proportion of students in each faculty in 1946.

"(3)That such bursaries pay all compulsory fees for the approved course, together with a book grant at the scale authorised now by the Rehabilitation Department.
"(4)That each bursary pay a living allowance at the same rate as in the Australian scheme, i.e., £117 p.a. to students living at home, and £156 p.a. to students boarding away from home. As in Australia, vacation employment should be permitted, but no allowance paid for any week in which employment is undertaken. Such allowance should be payable for a period of four years, extendable at the discretion of the administering authority to five years to cover special faculties such as medicine and law.
"(5)That no bursary shall come into effect unless the bursar is 18 or over on the first day of the first term in the year following that in which he passed University Entrance; if he is under age, and obtains a bursary, it shall be held over for one year.
"(6)That all bursaries and scholarships be administered by the one authority—either the University Senate or the Director of Education as is most convenient, and that an attempt be made to simplify terminology and procedure, and that adequate publicity be in straightforward phraseology.
"(7)Where a student with the approval of his professor requires a further year to complete a thesis for his Honours degree, the bursary should be extended for a further year.
"(8)That the Government give consideration to [unclear: substantially] increasing the number of Post-Graduate and Travelling Scholarships."

Action now

These proposals were unanimously endorsed by the 1948 annual meetings of Auckland and Victoria Students' Associations. Successful meetings were held to discuss them by the Socialist and Labour Clubs of the four colleges. Our Socialist Club sponsored the all-time most successful staff-student meeting, when Dr. Beaglehole and Mr. Bertram, among others, contributed their views on the scheme, mainly sympathetic. Letters of support came from Sir Thomas Hunter, Professor Richardson, Mr. Braybrooke. The net result of all the discussion was some disagreement about such things as the means test, the age limit and the proportional allotment to faculties, but the principle met with general approval.

NZUSA August Conference the same year adopted the proposals in principle and set up a subcommittee to investigate the situation further before presenting them to the Government. But the sub-committee never met.

It took a resolution from Congress 1950 to revive the scheme, and last NZUSA Annual Conference referred it 'back to N.Z.S.L.F. for final research towards drawing up a complete scheme for presentation to the authorities. S.L.F. has set up a Bursaries Committee: C. Bollinger (convenor), D. Cohen, R. J. Smith, Mrs E. Garrett and two representatives of the V.U.C.S.A. Exec.

This committee is now faced with the additional increases in living costs. Massey College students estimated at the beginning of the year that the average degree student had to spend £154 14s in a college year (on college fees, books, board, etc.). yet could derive an income of only £86 from the best bursary. A similar position obtained in all other colleges. But it is now far worse. Mr. Holland's (mythical) 4% increase in the cost of living has affected Weir House board to the extent of 50% £2 tor £3 per week.—"Evening Post," 26.5.50. Y.M.C.A. board has risen from £2 16s 3d to £2 19s for a single room. Railway fares, the cost of meals, clothes, books, all affect students. In fact, as has been pointed out, the wage increases following on the price rises will naturally be put down by the manufacturers as "increased costs," and be made the excuse for further price increases in all commodities. Thus our economic system works.

Quite apart, then, from the standing need for more adequate bursaries to increase the proportion of fulltime students, there is an immediate and urgent need for a larger allowance to meet the sudden bump-up in the dally draw on our pockets. The wage-earners need it. The students need It.

(P.S. Moreover we will find that in 1951, £105,000 will not build so much Student Union Building as it would have in 1950.)