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Progressives differentiate tertiary fees increaces

Progressives differentiate on tertiary fees increases

The Progressive Party is opposed to increases in tertiary fees because it believes that fee increases for education may shut some students out of education and therefore harm New Zealand's economic development, Progressive leader Jim Anderton, said today.

"If the Progressives alone set the policy of the government, our priority would be to ensure that no individual tertiary student would face a fee increase," Jim Anderton said.

"We recognise that this would require either a reduced government surplus or cuts to other programmes of less priority to us than education," he added.

There was an announcement from Steve Maharey on fee maxima today.

A number of tertiary institutions had sought the ability to increase some course fees by significantly more than the coalition government was prepared to permit and the Progressives are proud to have been part of the decision to prevent more significant fee hikes.

"The Progressive Party is also very proud to have been intimately involved in the coalition's Budget 2003 decision to establish the bonded scholarships pilot initiative," Jim Anderton said.

Around 500 students will be eligible next year for new tertiary scholarships that will both improve participation by low income people in tertiary education and help retain skilled graduates in New Zealand.

In the 2005 election the Progressives will campaign to increase their representation in Parliament and in the government. An increased presence will increase the party's bargaining power at the Cabinet table to oppose any tertiary fee increases.

The Progressives are alarmed that the National Party favours no limits on tertiary institutions' ability to raise fees by whatever amount they wish to.

"We fear fee increases limit opportunities for young people to equip themselves for high-skill jobs. At a time when employers desperately need more skills, the Progressives believe that the cost of education should not be increased. We don't want to deter any potential students from study at a time when we need more students to be studying,” said Jim Anderton.

The party's policy is to increase access to tertiary education and solve the student debt problem. Ultimately, the Progressives favour the abolition of all financial barriers to education and training because of the key role training and education play in the nation's economic development.

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