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Brain drain statistic backs need for loan review

Labour
2000 web siteLabour associate education spokesperson Steve Maharey said the Brain Drain faced by New Zealanders was another good reason for a review of the student loan scheme.

He said the call by Otago University for a review of the loans scheme was timely and he would support the move.

"If anything, the current Brain Drain experienced by New Zealand is good reason in itself to review the loans scheme as there is good reason to suggest that high student debt is behind much of the exodus," Steve Maharey said.

"The 1999 World Competitiveness Yearbook, released recently by the Switzerland-based IMD (Institute for Management Development), placed New Zealand near the bottom of the Brain Drain list - saying that nearly six in ten well educated people left the country for other shores. It ranked us 39 out of 47 countries and put us in the same realm as countries like Korea, China, and Venezuela.

"That's a shocking statistic - backed up by anecdotal evidence saying young people are either seeking better paid work overseas to pay off their loans or trying to avoid paying them back altogether.

"Parliamentary questions from Tertiary Education Minister Max Bradford have confirmed that no work is being done to gather a more accurate picture of what is happening to one of our key assets - our well educated New Zealanders.

"Labour's commitment to lowering student debt includes stopping the interest on student loans while the student is still studying. I would also welcome any other improvements that could be made to the scheme to ensure that young people were not straddled with huge debts when they finish their tertiary study," Steve Maharey said.

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