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Follow Britain's lead in rethinking student loans

4 October 2001

Attention Education Reporter

Government should follow Britain's lead in rethinking student loans

Green Education Spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today urged the Government to follow the lead of Tony Blair's Government and launch a full scale rethink of university fees and student loans.

Tony Blair has ordered the review after acknowledging that his Government 'had to find a better way to combine state funding and student contributions'.

"The problems in both Britain and New Zealand are essentially the same - the up front course costs are too high. The student loans scheme is a barrier to study that saddles people with debt for their working lives," Nandor said.

"Tertiary education was one of the biggest issues in the last election. Despite some useful tinkering around the edges the fundamental problems facing students in this country have not been faced."

Nandor said the problems associated with the loan scheme could not be solved with tinkering and that the scheme needed to be abolished.

"It is a positive thing that this Government has frozen tuition fees and amended the loan repayment requirements, but it was elected to do much more significant work than this.

"The Greens want to see the student loan scheme scrapped and the introduction of a universal student allowance at the same level of the unemployment benefit," he said.

"Tony Blair has recognised their loan scheme is fundamentally flawed. If we are really serious about a 'knowledge economy' we have to make education as accessible and attractive as possible to all people."

Nandor said that means encouraging people to learn instead of loaning them huge amounts of money at corporate interest rates.

ENDS

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