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National Student Body Concerned By Private Savings

National Student Body Concerned By Private Savings Scheme

The Aotearoa Tertiary Students Association (ATSA) has expressed serious concerns about a private working group’s proposal that individuals could “save and pay” for their children’s tertiary education through a savings scheme.

“While this working party probably has good intentions in addressing the problem of student debt, ATSA is concerned that they have missed the point,” said ATSA President Julie Pettett. “Some, indeed many, families simply cannot afford tertiary education because the cost is too high. The cost to students of getting a university education increased by an average of 282% between 1992 and 1999. This is why more and more people are resorting to getting a student loan to pay their costs.”

“ATSA is opposed to the introduction of such private savings schemes, because they shift the responsibility of funding tertiary education from the government to the individual, their families and communities,” said Pettett. “Individuals are already paying for tertiary education both through student debt and their taxes. This is causing stress, anxiety and financial pressure. How can we ask this generation to start saving for their children ’s tertiary education, when they are still burdened by their own student debt?”

“We are not going to solve the problem of student debt by asking people to pay more. This will simply mean that those who can afford to, will, and those who cannot, will miss out. It will also mean that the government can point the finger at families who have ‘failed’ to save when they themselves should be paying for the tertiary education of all New Zealanders. A knowledge society will not happen without government investment.”

Pettett said that similar schemes were in operation overseas, and have created dangerous divides between the rich and the poor’s ability to access tertiary education. “This kind of scheme is more likely to reinforce an elitist system of education than solve any problems,” said Pettett. “This private working party’s time would be better spent looking at alternatives to the student loan scheme which will enable all learners, not just those who can afford to save.”

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