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Maori student debt skyrockets past $1.5 billion

14 September 2005

Maori student debt skyrockets past $1.5 billion

Today total student debt passed the $8 billion dollar mark. According to the latest statistics, the percentage of debt belonging to Mâori students shows Mâori student debt skyrocketing above $1.5 billion.

“A collective Mâori student debt of $1.5 billion is incredible. Our hopes for future Mâori development are crumbling before our very eyes” said Veronica Tawhai, Kaitûhono for Te Mana Âkonga, the National Mâori Tertiary Students Association.

“Having a tertiary qualification and its promises to secure a better standard of life amounts to nothing when financially crippling our whânau, or forcing our students overseas or into the public sector away from the work needed in whânau, hapu and iwi”

Research by the Ministry of Education show that Mâori students take longer to pay off their loans than non – Mâori. Five years after study, 30% of non - Mâori would have paid off their loans compared to a mere 18% of Mâori – nearly half the number. This has been directly linked to the ability of Mâori, post graduation, to secure a decent income to meet the loan repayment threshold. This means Mâori end up paying more for their education then those who can secure high income and repay their debt faster.

“Addressing the interest of loans just isn’t enough. High fees and a lack of allowances are pushing Mâori away from the higher levels of study needed to secure a better income, and from entering tertiary education at all” said Miss Tawhai. “The situation is getting worse and worse”.

Te Mana Âkonga currently has a Waitangi Tribunal claim which addresses the discriminatory effects of the loan scheme on Mâori. They also implore all Mâori to make sure they are enrolled to vote and make an informed vote this election.

“Mâori must use their vote on Saturday to ensure this issue and other issues for Mâori in tertiary education are addressed. Use your power to ensure our voice is heard. It is absolutely vital to our future” concluded Miss Tawhai.

ENDS

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