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$320 per week cash boost for these Aussie uni students battling 'placement poverty'

Nursing, teaching, midwifery and social work students will be eligible for the weekly payment.

University students struggling to juggle unpaid placements, study and work will get relief under a new government package. Yahoo Finance has spoken to students forced to do unpaid placements who said the hundreds of lost hours of potential work means they struggle to afford basics like food and housing.

The government has responded to increasing "placement poverty" by announcing a weekly $320 payment for some students in several health or teaching fields. But, not all university students will be eligible and it won't come into effect until next year.

So will you benefit? Here's a breakdown of the plan announced ahead of next week's federal budget.

Nariman Dein next to someone holding wad of $50 notes
Western Sydney University graduate Nariman Dein said it's hard to complete the placement hours while trying to keep a roof over her head. (Source: Supplied/Getty)

Have you been struggling while on a university placement? Email stew.perrie@yahooinc.com

The initiative will be targeted at around 73,000 students facing "placement poverty" and will come into effect on July 1 next year. This means students currently struggling will have to endure until then.

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The $320 weekly payment is for students studying:

  • Nursing

  • Teaching

  • Midwifery

  • Social work

This included university students and VET students, approximately 68,000 and 5,000 respectively.

The payment will be means-tested and paid in addition to any income support the student may already receive.

Education Minister said the move would help address placement poverty, like that felt by Western Sydney University graduate Nariman Dein.

She was a vocal advocate to get better support for future students, revealing to Yahoo Finance that students have been “forced to choose” between getting an education and working to earn enough money to live.

“I really wanted to do my Masters and I have always wanted to be a psychologist, but I just found it unfair,” Dein said.

“It didn't seem right to me that I’m going to be training to be a psychologist and actually offering what I’ve learnt at uni, just for me to not make any money off it.”

Clare said he'd spoken to students who echoed Dein's experience, some who are in fields Australia desperately needs.

“This will give people who have signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country a bit of extra help to get the qualifications they need,” he said.

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The stipend to help students on placement afford essential bills and groceries was a recommendation of the Australian Universities Accord, which was a review tasked with providing suggestions and performance targets to improve the higher education system.

The Universities Accord said “onerous hours” required by mandatory placements can financially disadvantage students who are unable to participate in paid work while on placement.

National Union of Students president Ngaire Bogemann described the scheme as a “massive win” for uni students.

“I’ve heard horror stories of nursing students, of students doing placements having to live in their cars while they’re undertaking full-time unpaid work. This is just relief for students,” she told the ABC.

The announcement comes after the federal government revealed it wants to wipe $3 billion in HECS-HELP student loan debt for millions of Aussies.

The federal budget will be handed down on Tuesday.

Cost-of-living help has been flagged as a "central focus" of this year's budget. Tax breaks are the primary source but the government has touched on other sweet spots. Here's a short summary of what hasn't been mentioned above:

Stage 3 tax cuts: Every Australian will start to see an increase in their pay as tax cuts come in July 1. Find out more here.

Centrelink increases: Welfare payments will get "additional" attention after calls to boost JobSeeker by $121 a week. Rent assist is also likely to be increased. Find out more here.

Energy rebates: Anthony Albanese has hinted an energy bill lifeline could be continued in July while discussing the benefits of a previous $1.5 billion spent on emergency energy rebates. Find out more here.

Superannuation paid on parental leave: Parents are getting an expanded parental leave scheme and now the government has flagged introducing 12 per cent superannuation payments from July 1, 2025. The catch, they'd have to be re-elected. Find out more here.

Domestic violence: Financial support of up to $5,000 will be given to those escaping violence from July 1, 2025 as part of a fresh $925 million package. Find out more here.

THE BIG ISSUE: Inflation is hurting Australians more than anything, and budget measures to ease that financial pressure risk igniting a fresh inflation battle. Chalmers must tread carefully.