Labour Must Deliver Real Change Say Students.
The upcoming budget is an opportunity for the Labour led government to make good its promise to cut the cost to students of tertiary education.
If Labour truly is concerned about access to tertiary education and debt incurred by students they must go further than they have indicated, by lowering fees immediately and scrapping them altogether as soon as possible. This is the message from students who will picket tomorrow outside the Labour party offices in Willis Street.
" The Labour party made a lot of vague commitments before the election about making education cheaper for students, and picked up a lot of votes for that. Fees went up this year just the same as the last ten, and Labour didn't do a thing," says VUWSA Campaign Coordinator Joseph Kelly.
The students are also calling on Labour to reinstate the emergency unemployment benefit which used to be available to students who couldn't find work during the holidays. Over summer holidays there are three months when students rely on being able to find work to pay for living costs and the next years fees.
"Students are being actively discriminated against. We are still the only group in society that is forced to borrow to live. Reinstating the EUB is a small but important step towards changing this" says VUWSA Campaigns Officer Nick Henry.
The government is projecting a budget surplus, and has increased taxes on cigarettes by $100m. Students hope that some of this money is put towards easing the financial pressures on students and tertiary institutions. "Its all a question of priorities, for the cost of the unnecessary Orion Sirius upgrade we could have had free education for a year. The government has been very generous in increasing funding to the arts community, we hope they will likewise see the wisdom in investing in tertiary education." said Mr Henry.
The Picket will follow a debate on "women in tertiary education" between Labour's Diane Yates and women from the Education Action Group. The debate will focus on issues of access to tertiary education, in particular the impact of the student loan scheme and user-pays policies on women's participation.
"Women still take twice as long as men to pay off their student loans. As long as students have to pay fees and living costs by getting into debt, women will be disadvantaged" said Yadana Saw, VUWSA Welfare Vice President.
The debate will take place at 1:30 Wednesday 31st May in the Victoria University Quad. The group will leave at approximately 2:30 to march to Labour HQ and Marion Hobbs' electorate office on Willis St, arriving about 3pm.
For more information contact Campaigns Officer Nick Henry on 473-8566 x834
******************************************************************** Chris Hipkins President Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (Inc.) Te Ropu Tauira o te Kura Wananga o te Upoko o te Ika a Maui