Key Points:

The New Zealand Union of Students Associations is calling on National to match Labour's offer of a universal student allowance or not bother at all.

Prime Minister Helen Clark has revealed a four year timetable to work towards all students receiving an allowance, regardless of their parents' incomes.

The policy will cost $210 million a year and benefit 50,000 students aged 18-23, who are currently ineligible to receive the weekly payment of $150 a week.

New Zealand Union of Students Associations co-president Paul Falloon says students have been campaigning for a universal allowance for years.

He says National has indicated it will make changes, but he believes it will not be enough.

"They (National) will probably look to do something to increase the status quo but will fall short of the universal allowance which will fall short of our expectations."

Students currently owe about $10 billion of debt borrowed to pay for their fees and living costs.

National has previously pledged to put an extra $47 million a year to address literacy and numeracy issues.

Auckland students say a universal allowance is a justified investment.

David Do from the Auckland University Students Association says under Labour's policy, students will no longer have to borrow to live, or work long hours while they are studying.

He says it means that people do not have to come out of tertiary education with several thousand dollars of debt.

Mr Do believes tertiary students will also achieve better results while studying, because they will not have to worry about their finances.