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Participation Research Wakeup Call For Politicians

The national students' organisations today called on politicians to heed research by Auckland University and the Post-Primary Teachers' Association on declining tertiary education participation by students from poorer schools, and to act quickly to ensure access to quality education for all.

"The Auckland University and PPTA work bear out the findings of the 1998 NZUSA and APSU report on unequal tertiary participation, 'The Myth of Equal Opportunity'" said John Barkess, president of the Aotearoa Postcompulsory Students' Union. "Our research showed that whereas 1 in 2 students from the wealthy Decile 9 and 10 schools go on to tertiary study, only 1 in 16 students from Decile 1 and 2 schools do the same. Three sets of research coming to the same alarming conclusion is a pretty good indication that something is seriously wrong in education."

"The Government has made much recently of 'universal participation' in tertiary education," said Karen Skinner, Co-President of the New Zealand University Students' Association. "This research reveals how empty the Government's assertion is. Tertiary education is increasingly becoming a reserve of the wealthy. "

"What we urgently need now is a genuine commitment by all parties to make sure that every New Zealander, regardless of their background or school, can participate in tertiary education," said the national student bodies.

"In an era where tertiary education has become a necessity, it is absolutely criminal to treat education like some sort of luxury good, accessible only by those with the requisite means. We call on all parties to commit to removing all barriers to tertiary education - high fees, interest on Student Loans while studying, and a lack of adequate living support."

"If we don't act now, we risk consigning increasing numbers of New Zealanders to poverty and permanent social exclusion. Failure to act will make the so-called 'knowledge economy' little more than a pipe-dream."

ENDS

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