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No Cause for Celebration on Intl. Women’s Day

MEDIA RELEASE Date: 8 March 2002 Attention: Education Reporters For Immediate Release

No Cause for Celebration on International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day (8 March) should be a day of celebration for women worldwide. However, students are horrified by the release of new figures by the Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) which show that women in New Zealand are becoming increasingly disadvantaged by the Student Loan Scheme.

Today ATSA released new figures which reveal that, based on the average student loan of $12,725, women will generally take more than twice as long as men to repay their student debt, and pay twice as much in interest. The figures, calculated with 2001 census data, reveal that women who obtain a bachelor degree are likely to take about ten years to repay their loan, in comparison to a male with the same qualification who will take only three years and ten months to repay the same amount.

Julie Pettett, President of ATSA, said that students were “horrified, but not surprised” by the figures. “Previous research conducted by ATSA has shown that these disparities exist. So why does the government continue to support a scheme where a woman with a bachelor degree will on average pay $4,739 in interest on their student debt, while a man with the same qualification will pay $1,675?”

“ATSA is concerned and appalled at the effect student loans will have on the women, families and communities of New Zealand in the future,” stated Pettett. “We need to put a stop to this system which leaves women in a disadvantaged economic position. ATSA wants to see a tertiary education system which supports and rewards women in higher education, because ultimately this will mean a better future for us all.”

Pettett said that ATSA is actively involved in developing campaigns at local and national levels to ensure that this is a major election issue. “We know the problem – now we want to see what sort of solutions parties are proposing. Students will be watching closely in the upcoming months.”

For further comment, contact: Julie Pettett ATSA National President Office 04 939 1417 Cellphone 029 939 1417

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