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Progressive debt relief scheme needed

24 November 2004

Hon Matt Robson MP, Progressive Deputy Leader

Mounting Maori student debt shows need for Progressive debt relief scheme, and universal allowances

Maori students and graduates owe more than $1 billion in loan debt according to the Maori Students Association. Progressive Deputy Leader Matt Robson responds to this news.

"Maori student debt is a huge problem, in particular because many Maori are doing tertiary courses with lower earning potential than pakeha students. So while it is excellent to see higher Maori participation in tertiary education, the resulting debt can be harder for them to pay off," Matt Robson said.

"Maori students are taking longer than other students to pay off their loans. Maori take an average of 9.2 years while Europeans take an average of 8.7 years. This gap could be addressed in part by supporting Maori in taking more university based courses.

"I will be attending the Maori Student Debt summit on the 6th of December to discuss these issues because Maori development and success is key to New Zealand's success for the future. We don't want to penalise those Maori who are working hard at their education by landing them with debt, we need to encourage and celebrate the efforts of Maori students.

"The level of Maori student debt shows the need for the Progressive's recently announced policy to reduce loan debt and keep our valued graduates in New Zealand. This is one small step we believe can be achieved now to reduce student loan debt for all," Matt Robson said.

The Progressive party policy initiative to relieve student debt would mean the government meets student loan repayments for at least three years after graduation, provided students stay and work in New Zealand.

The Progressive Party has a policy of free tertiary education, including no fees and universal student allowances. We campaign for any moves that can be made towards that goal.

ENDS

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