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Greens Propose Debt Write Off Tertiary Policy

Green Party proposes debt write-off scheme in Tertiary Education Policy

The Green Party, launching its Tertiary Education policy today, supports writing off students' education debts in return for a "commitment to New Zealand society" from them.

According to the OECD, New Zealand is still short of a level of participation in tertiary studies that would match the ambitions of a knowledge-intensive, high-skills economy.

Green Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Michael Tritt said today that for New Zealand to progress towards the much talked about knowledge economy the user-pays system, which discourages participation, must be rejected. Tertiary education was vital to our future prosperity, he said.

Mr Tritt said that the write-off scheme would see one year's full-time commitment (35 hours a week) from a student enabling one year's fee for fulltime study, including interest and living cost debts, to be written off. The commitment could be either paid work, raising a family, caring for elders or voluntary work.

"We're saying it is a student's choice what they do. As long as they are making a positive commitment to New Zealand we support writing off their debt.

"A generation has had its future compromised by a short-sighted, uncaring and economically senseless government policy. Student debt has reached crisis level and the debt burden is a wrong that must be corrected," Mr Tritt said.

The Green Party supports capping fulltime student fees at $1500 and then progressively phasing them and the loan scheme out over time. The Green Party would also apply immediately a real interest rate of zero to student loans. The loans would be adjusted for inflation.

Access to publicly funded education would depend on academic progress.

The Green Party supports the introduction of a universal student allowance for fulltime students, at the level of the unemployment benefit, and tax write-offs of study costs for part-time students.

Mr Tritt and Green Party Co-Leader Rod Donald release the policy today at 1pm at the University of Otago's Union.


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