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Labour’s Step Up Scholarships a Poor Second Best

Labour’s Step Up Scholarships a Poor Second Best for Students

Providing fees scholarships for a small number of tertiary students is a poor second best to fully funded tertiary education for all New Zealanders.

Labour’s announcement yesterday of an extra 175 “Step Up” scholarships will be helpful for the recipients but merely underlines just how far Labour has strayed from making high quality tertiary education available to all students as a right of citizenship.

If Labour had fundamental principles this would surely be one! It appears not.

Labour has abandoned fully funded tertiary education – even as a long term objective!

Education Minister Trevor Mallard acknowledges that working class New Zealanders are poorly represented in many high quality tertiary courses and yet the high cost of tertiary education is one of the critical factors which limits opportunities for students from working class backgrounds from gaining access to these courses in the first place.

Meanwhile tertiary education fees are continuing their rapid rise with Massey University suggesting increases of up to 10% for many courses in 2006 - double the government guideline and well above the rate of inflation.

In fact many, if not all public tertiary education providers are looking at fee increases above the rate of inflation.

We acknowledge Labour’s policy of zero interest on student loans as a significant step in the right direction on student loans but this policy will be seriously eroded before it is even implemented because students must borrow more to begin with!

ACT/National policy offers nothing better (if fact their privatisation policies would be disastrous) but this is no excuse for Labour to pursue second best policies with third rate resourcing.

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