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Progressive supports lower student fees

4 June 2004

Progressive supports lower student fees, smaller surpluses

Progressive leader Jim Anderton wants student fees lowered over time because he believes that would be in the national economic development interest.

He told students at Canterbury University today that if the government increased living allowances and reduced fees, or even abolished them, the surplus would of course be lower.

"The Progressive Party supports having a lower surplus in order to invest more in education. We are ambitious for New Zealand," he said.

"If we had it our way alone, we would move to lower student fees because we believe it is a long-term investment in our future that would more than pay for itself over time.

"Progressive believes that more spending on education is in the long term more prudent than not spending more on education," he said.

Jim Anderton revealed that inside this government, Progressive had advocated for targeted bond schemes which would lower the effective costs of tertiary education for groups of students, groups of students prepared to commit themselves to work in certain regions of New Zealand, and in certain skill areas, upon completion of their studies.

He admitted, however, that his party had had limited success with its endeavours in this area.

Other points of Jim Anderton's address, which will be posted at www.progressive.org.nz were:

New Zealand can't afford to lose our best and brightest overseas because of the debt burden; We can't afford to deter any young people from higher education;

We shouldn't burden the future of our young adults with even more debt – which is already up to seven billion dollars and increasing all the time;

The Progressive Party articulates its views within the coalition government system because we know the world will soon have a shortage of skilled workers; It knows that New Zealand will be left behind if we do not keep up;

It knows that increased access to tertiary education is essential for our future if we want higher incomes for all New Zealanders;

That is why the Progressive Party has as an ultimate ambition the provision of free education from pre-school to tertiary, a policy which if delivered would diminish the need for students to borrow money to live and study. If students want lower fees and lower student debt – then their representative bodies need to win public support for the long term economic and social merits of the idea; If students do win public support, then it is likely that the Big Parties will come round to share the view.


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