Students are applauding less debt as a result of the Government’s fees-free policy, but say that student issues do not end there. Student loan borrowing is $151 million lower in the first three months of this year compared to same period last year according to the Budget announced today.
‘That’s $151 million less going towards the $16 billion national student loan balance,’ says Jonathan Gee, National President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
‘However, fees-free alone will not solve all the challenges that students face. Our vision aligns with the Education Minister’s -- a barrier-free education for all. Our message to the Minister is therefore -- let’s work together.’
‘The Government is on the right track, but they need to work with us and show us their plan to genuinely create a barrier-free education for all New Zealanders.’
‘Let’s not forget that during the 2017 general election, this Government promised to restore postgraduate student allowances and restore student loan borrowing for those studying long courses beyond 7 years of study. We’re also eagerly awaiting free counselling for under-25 year olds, as promised in the Labour/Greens Confidence and Supply Agreement. The least we expect is for those promises to be kept before we go to the polls again.’
Gee says that the sector will be watching next year’s Budget very closely.
‘In the face of course cuts, staff cuts and cuts to the humanities, the tertiary education sector is in need of a long-overdue funding boost. Better still, we need to change the funding model to ensure tertiary institutions are well-equipped to deliver a tertiary education that is good for students and good for New Zealand.’