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Progressive Party supports lower tertiary fees

28 October 2004

Hon Jim Anderton MP, Progressive Leader

Progressive Party supports call for lower tertiary fees

Comments by the New Zealand Univesity Students' Association saying tertiary fees should be coming down, not going up, are understandable according to Progressive Leader, Jim Anderton.

"Lowering the cost of access to, and the debt levels incurred, by tertiary fees would encourage more people to take up tertiary education. We are living in an age where ideas and intellect play a critical role in lifting our economic performance and that means we can not afford to start limiting access to tertiary education through higher fees.

"Further burdening our already indebted young students is not a sustainable basis for our nation's future. The Progressive Party supports lower fees and a universal living allowance to encourage tertiary study and reduce student debt. Ultimately we believe in free tertiary education, but we need to make incremental steps towards that goal.

"Investment in tertiary education is as important to society and our economy as investment in infrastructure and economic development programmes. They all contribute to lifting our living standards in the long run. There is a particular urgency to supporting tertiary education, however, because we are already competing with the rest of the world for a skilled and talented workforce. If we are not fully competitive our economy will start to lose momentum when compared to other developed countries and living standards will drop again as they did when National was last in power.

"The world market is more and more focused on value added production which requires research and development. A well educated society will help us compete and assist in commercialising good ideas into high quality, value added products for export. New Zealanders are innately creative and talented. Now is the time to extend our abilities as a technologically advanced nation through easily accessible tertiary education," Jim Anderton said.

The Progressive Party is currently investigating further policy options to support tertiary education and reduce student debt.

ENDS

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