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Students call National's student loan claim absurd

Press release

For immediate release

25 February 2000

Students call National's student loan claim absurd

Claims by the Opposition Education spokesperson, Nick Smith, that students were better off under the previous National Government's student loans policy are nothing short of laughable the APSU Student Union said today.

Yesterday Dr Smith released projected figures that showed that WINZ was planning for an additional 45,000 loan applications. At the same time he claimed that National's student loan policy was more "sensible" than Labour's interest free student loans.

"In fact when National was in power, students, who had no ability to pay off debts while studying, were charged full market interest rates. It was a policy that was so punitive that it either forced students into poverty, put them off study, or made them jeopardise their study because they had to work too many hours in part-time jobs in order to avoid debt."

"In 1999, a CM Research study, commissioned by APSU and NZUSA, showed that 43 % of students had regular work in term time. A study by the Vice Chancellors' Committee showed that 56% of students agreed that they would be more successful in their studies if they didn't have to work so much during term time."

"We believe that any increase in students borrowing in 2000 will largely be due to students cutting back on part-time work and concentrating on their studies."

"Dr Smith's claim that he had anecdotal 'evidence' that students are investing their student loan money exposes his ignorance of how the student loan scheme works."

"Students can only draw down a maximum of $150 per week for living costs. This drip feed method, combined with student loan administration charges, and low bank interest rates would make it very difficult to earn large sums of money off a student loan."

"Furthermore, I would like to remind Dr Smith that these figures are projections only. Given officials' poor record at making projections on the students loans scheme, we believe it is too soon to tell whether any increase in borrowing will be significant."

"We would suggest that Dr Smith wait for the student loan review, where the true story of the impact of the National's student loans scheme will emerge. In the meantime, I have mailed him a copy of our CM Research report so he can become acquainted with the real story of student finances."

ENDS

For more information contact:

David Penney

APSU National President

Phone 04 498 2501

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