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Hypocritical Nats Defy Belief On Student Fee Claim

21 May 2001

Hypocritical Nats Defy Belief On Student Fee Claims

National is showing unbelievable hypocrisy with comments on tertiary funding, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

The Government last year increased per student tuition subsidies by 2.3 percent after a decade of annual cuts under the last National government which saw student fees rise by 280 percent between 1990 and 1999. Private discussions have also been held with the tertiary education sector about funding allocated for next year which will be revealed in Thursday's Budget.

Mr Maharey said the Labour-Alliance Government promised voters prior to the election that it would cut the cost to students of tertiary education and it was delivering on its pledge.

"National has no credibility in the tertiary education portfolio. Elected on a promise of abolishing fees in 1990, it instead cut the per student subsidy by 15 percent per cent over the following decade resulting in an average fee rise of 12 percent per year.

"A decade of annual per student funding cuts left New Zealand's tertiary education institutions in a parlous financial position. The Government has had to directly step in provide funds to secure the future of four regional polytechnics and we are working closely with several others.

"Labour and the Alliance have reversed this situation. Per-student subsidies rose last year in exchange for fee stabilisation. Thursday's Budget will again reveal the importance the Government places on holding student fees and strengthening the ability of tertiary providers to deliver quality education and research.

"It is simply not good enough for Maurice Williamson to now forget his party's terrible past. I know students won't let him off the hook and I am pretty sure the general public know crocodile tears when they see them," Steve Maharey said.

Ends

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