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Students flee overseas with huge loans

Students who leave New Zealand owe 21% more than students who stay, according to figures released today by the Alliance.

Education spokesperson Dr Liz Gordon says the figures show students heading overseas are those most in debt.

The average debt level for people in New Zealand is $11,625. For those living outside New Zealand it is $14,089, or 21% more.

Answers to written questions submitted by Dr Gordon show that $101 million is owed by at least 3,840 students who have fled the country and this number is increasing by over 1000 each year.

The highest debt of a person overseas is $103,000.

"This government has forced some of our brightest young people out of this country with the oppressive student loans scheme," Liz Gordon said.

"Today in Dunedin Liz Gordon outlined the case of one young New Zealander whose debt is increasing at over $6,240 a year.

"This person is overseas on a Voluntary scheme helping those in need, but at the same time her debt is increasing at $120 a week. What incentives are there for these talented people to come back to New Zealand?

"Young people with loans have been forced to delay having a family, buying a house and settling down because of their huge debts.

"The government's recently announced tax cuts mean nothing to people with a student loan who have faced marginal tax rates as high as 43c in the dollar for the last seven years.

"New Zealand is too small a country to lose our brightest young people because this government is too mean spirited to give them an affordable education," Liz Gordon.

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