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Students’ Lives Not A Game!

30 April 2002

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) has reacted strongly to unrealistic suggestions from Lockwood Smith that students should never pay off their student loans, and instead die in debt. “We are talking about the lives of real people here,” said ATSA President Julie Pettett. “These people are worried about how they are going to pay the rent and put food on the table. They are equally worried about their growing student debt, and how they are ever going to repay it. It is time politicians start taking these people’s lives seriously.”

ATSA is appalled by the reduction of student debt to a political game. “The lives of those who have student debt are not pawns to be used in scoring political points,” said Pettett. “Student Debt is a real concern to those who live with it daily, as well as their families. Student Debt should also be a concern to all politicians, even those who received a free education, because it affects all communities within New Zealand.”

Pettett said that ATSA was particularly disturbed at the flippant attitude taken by Lockwood Smith to student debt considering the debt is listed as a sizeable government asset. “Currently, student debt amounts to five billion dollars worth of government assets. If Dr Smith is encouraging students to die with their debt, is he also admitting that this supposed ‘asset’ will never be recovered? If so, why isn’t he worried about the impact that will have on New Zealand as a country?”

“We want to know why the political game players are continuing to tinker with a policy that is fundamentally flawed,” said Pettett. “Figures reported yesterday showed a massive increase in the number of people with student debt who are not meeting their minimum repayments. Student Debt is spiralling out of control and it is a real and serious worry. We cannot continue to play with the lives of these people when their future, and the future of our country, is at stake.”


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