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Govt Research Condemns Tertiary Saving Scheme

Government’s Own Research Condemns Tertiary Savings Scheme

- Labour Bails Out On Low-Income Families -

Today’s Labour Government decision to seek expressions of interest from companies willing to provide a tertiary education savings scheme is deeply offensive.

Under this plan government funding for tertiary education would continue to decline and tertiary fees would continue to rise – some have risen as much as 10% already this year.

Minister of Education Trevor Mallard is reported as saying that tertiary study is expensive and the aim of a savings scheme would be to ensure that low-income groups were not shut out.

This is a cynical untruth. Low income families simply won’t be able to afford to save according to his government’s own figures.

The March 2005 Newsletter of the “Ministry of Consumer Affairs and Energy Safety Service” reports on a survey undertaken by the Ministry into the borrowing habits of New Zealanders. It was a telephone survey of 700 people. Under the heading “Key Findings” the Ministry reports -

“The research found that more than half (53%) of all respondents had borrowed in the past 12 months. Of these, 28% reported they had borrowed for essential items such as paying for household groceries or to pay the power bill”

This is an astonishingly frank report from the government and makes a mockery of Mallard’s carefully spun media comments.

The survey indicates that some 15% of New Zealand families are borrowing money just to keep food on the table and the lights on.

These are the very New Zealanders Mallard says his scheme is designed for and yet there is no way they will ever be able to afford to save for tertiary education for their children.

We continue to urge the government to abandon “user pays” tertiary education and give all New Zealanders the same fair deal by fully funding tertiary education.

Every New Zealander deserves access to the same high quality tertiary education irrespective of their ability to pay.

Instead Labour’s plans will cement-in educational opportunity as a privilege based on income rather than as a right of citizenship.

John Minto

National Chairperson

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