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Fees-Free Policy Will Widen Educational Inequality

Government's Fees-Free Policy Will Widen Educational Inequality

"Labour will tax hardworking New Zealanders to fund university for students that come from disproportionately upper and middle class families," says ACT Leader David Seymour.

"With $3 billion in new spending, and a plan to scrap Partnership Schools, this Government will widen the gap between those that are failed by our state schools and don’t make it to university, and those who already have many choices available to them.

“Only 8% of kids that leave school with NCEA Level 3 and above are from decile 1 and 2 schools, while 31% are from wealthier decile 9 and 10 schools.

“This policy is also a slap in the face for those born between 1972 and 2000. These New Zealanders paid for their degree and will now have to pay again for those currently going through university.

“Labour hasn’t learned the lessons from its interest-free student loan policy, a cynical bribe that was later endorsed by National. Last year, the New Zealand Initiative found the policy had cost taxpayers $6 billion, had not increased university participation rates, didn’t improve accessibility for Maori and Pasifika, and hadn’t reduced the size of the median student loan.

"University students only bear 20% of the cost of their education, yet graduates earn between $1.3 and $4 million more over their working lives than non-graduates. It is incredibly unfair that kids who leave school and go straight into the workforce will have to subsidise the education of university graduates who are more likely to come from wealthy families.

“Taking fees off a university degree will devalue education. If you get something for free, you’re less likely to weigh up the associated costs and benefits. Young people will be leaving universities with degrees they don’t want, having wasted three years of their lives.

"Labour is intent on reducing choice for kids that are failed by the public education system, subsidising kids with wealthier parents, and making those that choose not to attend university pay for everyone else."

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