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Student Debt Worse for Women & Change Needed

Action Plan Says Student Debt Worse for Women & Change Needed

Women students are welcoming the identification of student debt as a key issue for women in the Action Plan for New Zealand Women, released yesterday. The report commits government to reducing the impact of student loans on women and reducing financial barriers to women entering tertiary study.

“Government is finally taking notice of the fact that women take twice as long as men on average to repay their student loans,” said Camilla Belich, National Women’s Rights Officer of the New Zealand University Students’ Association (NZUSA). “We currently have a claim before the Human Rights Commission based on the unfairness of current policies which see women pay nearly twenty percent more for a bachelors degree due to increased interest charges.”

“We are interested in working with government to implement changes that would make the loans scheme fairer – such as scrapping market interest rates and introducing a cut off point of ten years after which outstanding debt would be written off.”

A living allowance for all students would be an important step in removing financial barriers for women entering tertiary study. “Borrowing to cover basics such as rent and food means that women are taking out loans they will be repaying their whole working lives.”

Belich said that the Tertiary Women’s Focus Group (TWFG), the women’s organisation in NZUSA, would also be pleased with the extension of paid parental leave announced yesterday, and the commitments to pay equity contained in the Action Plan.

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