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Student Financial Support receives 'Royal' Mandate


MEDIA RELEASE Date: 28 August 2002 Attention: Education Reporters

Improving Student Financial Support receives its 'Royal' Mandate

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students' Association (ATSA) is pleased that the Speech from the Throne highlighted progress towards improving student financial support by raising parental income thresholds for student allowances, increasing access to scholarships and bonding graduates in return for rebating their Student Loan debts.

ATSA notes that Labour's coalition partner, the Progressive Coalition, and the two parties it has signed agreements with, United Future and The Greens, have policies aimed at introducing a Universal Student Allowance. Together with Labour, these three parties gained more than half the party vote in last month's general elections. Adding the support of the other party advocating for a universal allowance, New Zealand First, means that nearly 70% of the new parliament agrees on improving financial support to tertiary students.

"Students and their families have the right to expect that the new government's approach to raising the parental income thresholds for allowances will reflect the will of the people," ATSA President Julie Pettett stated today. "Both the makeup of parliament, and the Speech from the Throne, demonstrates that real progress will be made in this term to raise parental income thresholds."

Two other aspects of student support were also mentioned in the speech. Bonding students and increasing the number of tertiary scholarships for tertiary study. ATSA believes that any approach to offering scholarships to, or limiting bonding only to graduates with 'economically vital' qualifications will generate inequities for the thousands of graduates who offer socially important, but economically under-valued, skills to Aotearoa New Zealand. "If scholarships and bonding systems exclude such graduates, it will devalue the clear intent of the revamped tertiary education system to improve the social development of the country," Pettett stated. "Students and their families expect the government to start 'walking the talk' about their vision for an inclusive and just society. The time is now, the will is there. Members of the government must now clearly demonstrate they have the honesty and courage to make their vision real."

ENDS

For further comment, contact: Julie Pettett ATSA National President Cell phone 029 939 1417 (04) 9391417

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students' Association - Representing University, Polytechnic and Wananga students

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