John Weekes is an NZME News Service reporter based in Wellington.

Students find rent a hurdle

Oliver Harper. Photo / Doug Sherring
Oliver Harper. Photo / Doug Sherring

Record high rents are pushing some young people to cancel university studies and others to sign up for welfare grants.

As the academic year dawned, Auckland's biggest student union said steep accommodation costs had a big impact on enrolments and living patterns.

"It's just too expensive to live in Auckland and be a full-time student," Auckland University Students Association president Arena Williams said. "A lot of people are realising that they have to take time off for a year and save up."

Even people with part-time jobs were being priced out of modest city flats. For school leavers like Oliver Harper, a university education in Auckland seemed increasingly unaffordable. He said he'd be lucky to pay $160 a week for a basic room in central Auckland. "As a student you won't be able to pay for that unless you get external support from the Government."

He said his friends faced a similar quandary. "Flatting has definitely been a topic ... the pricing is putting us off."

Alternatives for Harper included living at home while commuting daily to university from the North Shore - a time-consuming and costly option.

Williams said steep city rents had also led to AUSA handing out more welfare grants since summer school began last month. "We've had a lot of students who've come in ... and for the next two weeks they've got about $12 in their bank accounts."

- Herald on Sunday

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