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Further relief for students hangs on re-election

30 October 2001 Media Statement

Further relief for students hangs on Government’s re-election

Further action to ease the financial burden on students of tertiary education will only happen if the Labour-Alliance Government is re-elected, Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey said today.

Steve Maharey said the Government would be formally responding to the inquiry by Parliament’s Education and Science Select Committee into student support this year and would set in place a work programme to address the issues raised. He said the Labour-Alliance Government have made tertiary education a major investment priority, spending $800 million over 4 years to freeze fees, cancel interest off student loans and a range of other student-focused initiatives.

“The report is a significant contribution to raising public awareness and understanding of just how out-of-control tertiary education got over the 1990s.

“The inquiry was initiated following a request by Cabinet for the Select Committee to investigate student support issues. It complements other work the Government has been doing this year to improve publicly available information about the student loan scheme following advice from the Auditor-General that this needed improving.

“The current Government has invested $800 million over four years to cut the cost to students of tertiary education. We have targeted interest on student loans, frozen fees and put additional resources into helping students get summer work.

“Our approach is literally paying dividends. The average student will save $1000 next year thanks to the fees freeze, will have $900 in interest written off their loan and will therefore be able to pay it back 7.6% quicker.

“In addition, we are reshaping the entire system with the help of the Tertiary Education Advisory Commission to improve the quality, relevance and cost effectiveness of the qualifications that students achieve.

“New Zealanders will have a very clear choice at the next election. They can stick with Labour and the Alliance who have demonstrated we are keeping our promise to make tertiary education more affordable, or they can elect National and Act and see potential students shut out as fees continue to rise and debt starts mounting up again,” Steve Maharey said.

ENDS

Attached is a list of Government initiatives to lower the cost to students of tertiary education.

Tertiary education initiatives

Highlights of the initiatives taken under the Labour-Alliance Government to lower the cost to students of tertiary education include:

- Tertiary fees have been frozen in 2001 and will be frozen in 2002

- $64.7m in student loan interest has been written off the loans of full time and low-income students - an average of $900 per borrower

- 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 has been restored

- Eligibility has been extended for the Training Incentive Allowance

- $18m has been invested to tertiary institutions to improve the support available to Maori and Pacific students

- $6 million has been invested in the student loan administration system to ensure the problems encountered in 2000 are not repeated

- $3 million has been invested in Student Job Search to enable it to enhance the service it offers to students seeking summer employment. A new student summer work package is being introduced this summer

- The Tertiary Education Advisory Commission is working with the Government to improve the quality, relevance and cost effectiveness of the qualifications that students achieve


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