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Money for tertiary education doesn't grow on trees

24 January 2003

Money for tertiary education doesn't grow on trees

NZUSA criticism today of using private savings to finance tertiary education totally ignores the realities of life in New Zealand, according to Norman LaRocque, policy adviser at the Education Forum.

The Students' Association criticised the Labour Government for pursuing "an unfair private savings scheme based on the American model, where the rich save for their children's degrees and everyone else misses out".

Mr LaRocque said it took money to run a tertiary education system. That money does not grow on trees. The real question is who should pay - students or taxpayers?

"There are good reasons why students should pay for their tertiary education - they get the bulk of the benefits from tertiary education and they tend to come from families with above average incomes. As it stands, taxpayers already foot over 70% of the cost of tertiary education - over $10,000 per student.

"Why should taxpayers pay more, when we know that they are, on average, poorer than the families of tertiary students," said Mr LaRocque.

"The more obvious question is - why aren't students paying more? If the NZUSA really cared about access to tertiary education for the poor, they would advocate reduced subsidies for tertiary education, targeted assistance to the poor at the tertiary level and the transfer of funding to earlier levels of education. Such a strategy would be far more successful in lifting tertiary participation," Mr LaRocque said.


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