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Varsity staff say ditch private savings proposal

The Association of University Staff (AUS) has called on the Government to ditch proposals for a tertiary education savings scheme, saying it would be regressive and serve to strengthen the view that tertiary education is a private benefit which should be increasingly funded through individual contribution.

This follows today’s call from the Government’s for expressions of interest from groups interested in providing individualised savings accounts from which withdrawals could only be made for tertiary education costs. Individuals with such accounts would only be able to access student loans once they had withdrawn funds from their tertiary education savings account.

AUS General Secretary Helen Kelly said that AUS is committed to a publicly-funded, high-quality education system which provided equal access to all people, and not just those who could afford to pay. “A private savings scheme would not only favour those who can afford to save, but also would discriminate against low-income families and groups such as women who take time out from paid employment to meet family responsibilities,” she said. “It also erodes the notion that tertiary education is a public good.”

‘The introduction of individualised savings to fund tertiary education would expose New Zealand to the risk of developing a two-tier tertiary education system: one for those who are able to save privately and another, inferior one, for those dependent on an under funded public system,” said Ms Kelly.

Ms Kelly also said that an individual savings scheme could well be used as a means of disguising the effects of the controversial student loan scheme, but without reducing the burden on individuals of paying for their tertiary education. “Adequate funding is a state responsibility”, she said, “and Government’s priority should be to properly fund tertiary education.”

Government is expected to make on decision on whether to proceed with such a fund by August.

Ends

For further comment please contact:
Helen Kelly
AUS General Secretary
Phone (04) 915 6691 (work)
(04) 385 3153 (home)
027 4366 608 (mobile)
Email helen.kelly@aus.ac.nz

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