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Allowances boost but fees threat remains

Allowances boost for young students but fees threat remains

Students have welcomed the government announcement today that 16 and 17 year olds will be eligible for student allowances, but warned the government not to give with one hand and take with the other through fee increases.

"One budget decision that has not been announced with fanfare so far is the level of fee maxima," said Fleur Fitzsimons, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students' Association (NZUSA). "We fear the worst - big fee increases for most students - if the maxima are not set at a low level."

"We support more students having access to a student allowance, but if this is coupled with fee increases for most students, the Government is just making cosmetic changes."

"Only a comprehensive package of tertiary funding will fix the disastrous loan scheme," said Fitzsimons. "That means a universal student allowance and fee reductions."

The government will be setting fee levels in the budget later this week and for the first time in over a decade will be able to control what institutions charge students for tuition.

"The youngest students entering tertiary education will welcome the chance to apply for a student allowance, even if it is means tested on their parents income," said Fitzsimons. "What they won't welcome is being the first in a new wave of students facing huge fee increases."

"The government have delivered on one of their election promises to students; now they need to ensure that they use fee maxima to reduce fees for all students otherwise they will be breaking another."

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