Today, the number of high school leavers who don’t have a course or job to go to when they finish is higher than at any time during the last 20 years. This equates to over half a million young people without work or study!
Many young people feel that they are excluded from additional study due to the high costs, particularly if their parents can’t provide them with financial support.
Those who are in full-time study are now having working longer hours than ever before. The average number of hours full-time students work is around 16 hours per week, with 1 in 5 students working more than 25 hours per week!
One of the biggest problems facing students is that if you don’t qualify for Youth Allowance then it’s almost impossible to earn enough money to pay rent, bills and be independent of your parents. Even if you do get Youth Allowance, it’s only around $200 per week. That’s not enough to live off!
Even those on Youth Allowance who have a part time job start losing part of their centrelink payment once they work more than 7 hours per week. Under this system, in order to earn the weekly minimum wage while on Youth Allowance, you have to work over 30 hours per week on top of your study. If you are on youth rates, you have to work closer to 40 hours per week!
This means many students are working full time while studying full time. Research has found that at least 1 in 4 students are regularly missing classes because of work commitments.
In the past, students didn’t necessarily need to earn as much, when education was free, text books were provided or subsidised, and student accommodation was cheap. Now, most student accommodation is very expensive, as are text books and course fees. This is because almost every aspect of higher education is run on a business model or for-profit basis.
It wasn’t always this way! Students need to get organised and demand a return to free, quality education for all, demand income support for students that covers the cost of living, and demand public investment into affordable student accommodation. Things won’t improve until we start to fightback!