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Wealth A Key Factor In Tertiary Participation

New research released today by the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA) shows that students from the wealthiest 20% of schools are nearly five times more likely to go to university than students from the poorest schools. Students from the decile 6-8 schools are also 50% more likely to attend polytechnic than students from the poorest deciles.

“Equal access to tertiary education is still a myth in New Zealand,” said NZUSA Co President Andrew Campbell. “Social and economic barriers, such as those caused by high fees and a crippling student loan scheme, are still keeping large groups of school leavers out of the tertiary education system.”

“If the government is truly committed to a knowledge society it needs to make the learning tools for it available to everyone. To do this, price needs to be removed as a discriminatory factor through fees coming down and living allowances being made more widely available,” said Campbell.

“The growth in tertiary participation has not been evenly spread. Maori and Pacific peoples are underrepresented in tertiary education enrolments and it is no coincidence that these two groups are over-represented in lower socio-economic indicators such as poorer school districts,” said Campbell.

”Tertiary Minister Steve Maharey said as recently as last week that the focus for education needed to move away from participation and students to quality of the system. He should be clear that there are already huge divisions in participation, and that they seem to be on the basis of wealth,” said Andrew Campbell.

“The Tertiary Education Advisory Commission (TEAC) will be releasing their report on funding tomorrow. An earlier draft suggested merit based restrictions to tertiary education. If that early recommendation is in the final report we now know which groups will be most adversely effected - the poor,” said Campbell.

“To provide a true level playing field the government needs to provide all New Zealanders with a free public education system and value it as an important public investment,” said Campbell.

ENDS


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