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84% increase in huge student debts

84% increase in huge student debts and 63% increase in students leaving NZ

Tue Nov 2 1999

The Student loans scheme report published today shows a huge increase in the number of students owing mortgage size debts and an alarming increase in the number of young people leaving the country.

'Last year 5,610 people had loans of more than $35,000. Now there are 10,354 students owing more than $35,000, an 84% increase,' Alliance Education Spokesperson Liz Gordon said.

'Once again it is clear that more and more students are borrowing more and more money. The concern demonstrated by parents, students and other groups over the growth in the student loan scheme can only be strengthened by these figures.

The report also shows that the number of students heading overseas was up from 4,713 to 7,683, a 63% increase.

'The government continues to deny that young people are leaving the country to escape their debt burden, when we hear stories every day of young people fleeing from their debts.

'Another year has passed and again the Ministry's annual report on the loan scheme gives a damning indictment of student debt.

'This week National has been shouting from the rooftops that they will be reducing taxes once again. In the meantime, at least one University may be facing redundancies while fees are set to rise an average 10 percent across tertiary institutions. When taxes go down, fees go up.

'More than a quarter of a million students have a student loan and National is planning to hit them harder next year when they increase the student loan marginal tax rate to 15 cents in the dollar on incomes over $50,000.

'National will be taxing these people at 48 cents in the dollar, higher than any tax the Alliance is suggesting.

'Only the Alliance has a plan to reduced fees, introduced student allowances and abolish the need for the student loans scheme in the future,' Liz Gordon said.

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