TERTIARY students are at breaking point – some go without food and many say their finances are a source of worry, but Charles Sturt University (CSU) is taking real steps to help.
Data in the Universities Australia Student Finances Survey 2017 suggests there has been a slight improvement in the financial circumstances for students overall, but the financial hardship faced by some groups of students, particularly Indigenous students, is particularly stark.
The data showed that one in seven students regularly go without food or other necessities because they can’t afford them, while three in five students said their finances were a source of worry.
Also, four in five students had a job while studying, but this came at a cost to their studies, with one in three regularly missing lectures or classes because they had to work.
CSU director of student services James Brann said the study highlighted that universities needed to take proactive steps to assist students as they study, and he said CSU had done exactly that.
He said the Bathurst campus had successfully trialed a new program earlier this year which helped students find work as they study.
Traditionally, you do live a little bit more frugally [while at university], but we need to bridge the gap between living frugally and not having much money at all.Charles Sturt University director of student services James Brann
“What the university has launched is Earn as you Learn at the Bathurst campus which is giving the skills up front in a registered training course,” he said.
Among the courses on offer is barista training and the Responsible Service Of Alcohol Certificate.
So far, 100 students have undertaken studies through CSU’s Earn and Learn.
“It’s going to be part of our wider strategic intent moving into 2019,” Mr Brann said.
In addition, the university will reduce its fees for on-campus accommodation from next year.
“We’ll be expanding our careers area, short term loans and scholarships,” Mr Brann said.
Metro living arrangements are an expensive exercise. But, unemployment rates for regional students are quite high.Charles Sturt University director of student services James Brann
He said these elements will assist CSU students to more successfully complete their studies.
“Traditionally, you do live a little bit more frugally [while at university], but we need to bridge the gap between living frugally and not having much money at all,” Mr Brann said.
He said while there were general benefits for students who choose to study in regional locations, there were also drawbacks.
“Metro living arrangements are an expensive exercise,” he said.
“But unemployment rates for regional students are quite high.”
This year CSU will award more than $3 million in scholarships. CSU also provides short-term, interest free loans up to $2000 and emergency loans within one working day up to $500.