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Maori Student Organisation Misguided

Tuesday 15 February, 2005

Maori Student Organisation Isn't Representing Interests of Maori Students

Te Mana Akonga, the National Maori Students' Association, should praise the student loan scheme for the benefits it has brought Maori, Education Forum policy advisor Norman LaRocque said today.

"The claim by the national Maori tertiary student association Te Mana Akonga that the loan scheme breaches the Treaty of Waitangi is absurd and short-sighted", Mr LaRocque said.

"Maori had much lower tertiary participation under the free, centralised and highly subsidised system that existed before the reforms."

It is plain wrong to suggest Maori are being shut out of tertiary education:

* The number of Maori students enrolled in formal tertiary education almost doubled between 1997 and 2003. Last year, 26 per cent of Maori aged 18 to 24 were enrolled, up from 19 per cent in 1999.
* The number of Maori completing qualifications in tertiary education almost doubled between 1997 and 2001. The number of Maori students completing diploma courses increased by 168 per cent between 2000 and 2002, and those gaining certificates rose by 120 per cent.
* The number of Maori industry trainees grew by 60 per cent between December 2000 and June this year.
* The number of Maori students enrolled in private training establishments rose by 60 per cent between 1999 and 2003.

The Association should acknowledge that student loan debt is matched by an important asset: the human capital built up through investment in tertiary education. Research shows that the income returns to educational investments for Maori exceed those of non-Maori at all levels of education.

Increased tertiary participation by Maori has not simply amounted to time served. This increased investment in human capital is paying dividends: average weekly income from wages and salaries for Maori with a bachelor or higher degree has exceeded that of non-Maori in every year since 2000.

"Te Mana Akonga is engaged in silly politics, rather than representing the interests of its members", Mr LaRocque concluded.


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