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National’s tertiary policy offers nothing

7 July 2002 Media Statement

National’s tertiary policy offers nothing to students

National’s tertiary education policy is full of sloppy thinking and would offer nothing to students, says Associate Education (Tertiary Education) Minister Steve Maharey.

The discriminatory plan to write off debt would see more than half the students completing qualifications each year missing out, and the small benefit gained by those who did qualify would quickly be eaten up by a return to fees rising each year.

“This policy is like all of National’s for this election – full of sloppy thinking and loaded with the failed ideas of the past.

“Despite being very expensive National’s debt write-off scheme would miss more than half the students completing qualifications each year. The policy is costed on the 35,000 students who complete degree and post-graduate qualifications annually – but it ignores the other 45,000 students who finish diploma and certificate qualifications.

“These students often pay similar fees, so where is the rationale for ignoring them? Over two thirds of Maori completing qualifications each year finish diploma and certificate courses so these students will see nothing from this policy.

“National has also ruled out continuing Labour’s fees stabilisation initiatives which has already saved students an average of $1000 each tuition costs this year. Fees rose by around 14% a year when National was last in government in the 1990s, so within five years the impact of its debt write-off scheme would be totally eaten up by rising fees.

“Students have indicated that greater access to allowances is their top priority, yet National has explicitly ruled out any moves in this area.

“There is also nothing in this policy about industry training and Modern Apprenticeships which has been one of the major success stories of this government. National continues to have a very narrow view of what constitutes tertiary education.

“National also wants to turn the system on its head again with a renewed focus on creating a competitive tertiary education marketplace. This failed in the 1990s and dumbed down the whole system in the process, which is hardly a recipe for building the knowledge society.

“Labour’s tertiary education policy builds on the three core principles of improving excellence, relevance and access. National’s policy is unworkable, discriminatory and ill thought out,” Steve Maharey said.


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