Tide turns for students
Hon Steve Maharey
Minister of Social Services and Employment
Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education)
Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector
MP for Palmerston North
27 February 2000
Tide turns for students
Nine long years of hostile indifference to the needs of tertiary students has come to an end, the Associate Minister of Education (Tertiary Education), Steve Maharey, said today.
Mr Maharey was speaking as students at the country's largest tertiary institutions return to their classes this week. The Government has moved quickly to keep promises made to students and their families during the election campaign. Changes announced by the Government so far will see over $420m extra invested in tertiary education over the next four years.
"Labour and the Alliance promised last year that when in government we would immediately begin to reinvest in New Zealand's future by lowering the barriers to tertiary education. We have kept our word.
"Taken together the initiatives announced since the new Government took office come to $581 per full-time student per year.
"Before Christmas we decided to stop charging interest on the loans of full time and low-income students while they are studying from 1 January.
"National tried to silence student opposition to its mean-spirited tertiary agenda and stopped students being able to borrow their association fees using the loans scheme. We have restored loan access for student association fees.
"This year we have frozen the interest rate borrowers are charged on their loans and we are looking at the way the annual rate is set to see if the formula can be improved.
"Dental students have had their fees halved, a drop of more than $10,000 per year. The previous government was repeatedly told there was no moral justification for the fees trainee dentists were charged.
"We will be conducting a thorough review of the loans scheme this year. National consciously avoided all consideration of the economic and social impact of high student debt levels. This Government will not.
"We promised students we would be the Government of constant improvement. As students start classes this year they can already see we are keeping our word," Steve Maharey said.
Attached is a summary table detailing new tertiary initiatives introduced by the Labour-Alliance Government.
Tertiary initiatives announced by the Labour-Alliance Government
Initative: Total through '02/'03
· no interest for full-time students
· borrowing for students' association fees restored
· no 15% repayment rate from 1 April 2002
No interest for low-income part-time students 8.5
Freezing the student loan interest rate at 7% for the 2000/01 income year 12.5
Increased dentistry funding 2.8
All figures are GST inclusive where applicable