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Tertiary students can trust Labour to deliver

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister for Tertiary Education

20 February 2008 Media Statement

Tertiary students can trust Labour to deliver

The estimated 448,000 students returning to tertiary education over the next couple of weeks can trust a Labour-led government to keep making improvements in the quality, accessibility and affordability of tertiary education, Tertiary Education Minister Pete Hodgson said today during a visit to Otago University for Clubs Day, part of Student Orientation.

“We recognise the big investment that students make in time and money. That is why in 2000 we removed interest from student loans while studying, and in 2006 we removed interest altogether for those living in New Zealand.”

Since 2000, Labour-led governments have reduced loan balances by writing-off $1.7 billion of interest. Last year alone this figure was $531 million, demonstrating the impact of the 2006 policy.

“Students know that making ends meet while studying is not always easy. That is why successive Labour-led governments have worked hard to ease students’ financial burden through improvements to the student loans and allowances scheme, and increases in scholarship availability.”

Over the last eight years Labour-led governments have:
- stabilised fees
- removed interest on loans while studying
- scrapped student loan interest altogether
- expanded scholarships for students
- consistently raised living allowances and eligibility
- made it easier for students to work part-time and receive an allowance

“And let us not forget what happened in the 1990s when National was in government: fees soared by an average of 13 per cent annually, students were charged market interest rates on their loans from day one and student allowance eligibility went down.

“Education in general, and tertiary education in particular, are fundamental drivers of New Zealand's ongoing social and economic success and development as a nation. There is clear research that indicates that the more educated you are, the happier and healthier you will be and the longer you will live.

“For this reason, the government is committed to continually developing a more affordable, robust, higher quality, more relevant tertiary education sector.”

ENDS

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