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Start Learning In 2001 Urges Maharey

New Zealanders are being encouraged to begin tertiary study this year as the Government's policies to lower the cost of education begin to bite, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

The Government has invested an additional $670 million over four years to develop a stronger and fairer tertiary education system. Key initiatives include freezing fees at all public institutions and most private providers this year; cancelling interest on student loans held by full-time and low-income part-time students; and the restoration of the value of the Training Incentive Allowance which assists domestic purposes, widows and invalids beneficiaries to undertake tertiary study.

Mr Maharey said that he had been concerned by recent media coverage about the costs of education to students.

"Recent reports have focused on the debts students incurred during the time the National government was in power. It is absolutely vital that New Zealanders understand that the costs of education have been dramatically reduced.

"A good education is an essential investment for the future – both personally and for the nation as a whole. That is why the Government targeted tertiary education amongst our most significant election commitments.

"The measures we have taken to date have lowered the cost of gaining an education and they are helping former students to pay their loans back more quickly. Fees will remain stable this year for the first time in a decade and the average student will pay their loan off two years earlier.

"As polytechnic students begin their studies for a new year, and the university enrolment period approaches, the Government wants to encourage all New Zealanders to think about taking up the study options available to them.

"Information about tertiary courses can be obtained from tertiary providers, Career Services and via the on-line Kiwi Careers website at www.kiwicareers.govt.nz," Steve Maharey said.

Attached is a schedule of the intiatives implemented by the Government to improve access to tertiary education.

Tertiary education initiatives

 fees at all public tertiary institutions and most private providers will be frozen in 2001
 no interest will be charged on the loans of full time and low-income students while they are studying
 the interest rate borrowers are charged on their loans was frozen in 2000 and we are looking at the way the annual rate is set to see if the formula can be improved
 50% of loan repayments in excess of the inflation adjustment now go directly to reducing the principal sum borrowed
 dental students have had their fees halved, a drop of more than $10,000 per year
 loan access for student association fees restored
 eligibility has been extended for the Training Incentive Allowance
 an additional $6 million has been invested in the student loan administration system to ensure the problems encountered in 2000 are not repeated
 an additional $3 million has been invested in Student Job Search to enable it to enhance the service it offers to students seeking summer employment
 a Tertiary Education Advisory Commission is working with the Government to set a new cooperative and collaborative framework for our tertiary education system

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