Can students really trust Labour to deliver?
Students are questioning Labour’s track record on accessibility and affordability in education, following Minister for Tertiary Education Pete Hodgson’s recent statement during a visit to Otago University for Orientation.
During his address to Otago students, Mr Hodgson boldly claimed students could “trust a Labour-led government to keep making improvements in the quality, accessibility and affordability of tertiary education.” He listed among the government’s achievements stabilisation of student fees and improved allowance eligibility.
“It is highly ironic and deeply concerning that Mr Hodgson chose limited access to allowances and rising fees to illustrate Labour’s commitment to students, as this is precisely where Labour has failed most miserably,” said Paul Falloon, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations.
A major Student Income and Expenditure survey released by NZUSA last month revealed that the average student debt is now 147% higher than it was in 1998, a year before the Labour government came to power. Only 37% of students receive an allowance of $70 per week on average, forcing many to into bank and credit card debt as they struggle to meet basic living costs. The study also revealed that students are now paying the highest fees New Zealand has ever seen.
“The Minister is attempting to paint a rosy picture of student support – but it just won’t wash. How can students be expected to trust Labour when student debt has skyrocketed under their watch and the student loan scheme will shortly hit a massive $10 billion?” said Falloon.
“It’s time to stop ignoring the issues and deliver a positive solution for the economic success and development of students and the nation – with the introduction of a living allowance for all students.” concluded Falloon.
For a copy of Hodgson’s statement see www.parliament.govt.nz