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Tertiary Saving Scheme will reinforce inequalities

Tertiary Savings Scheme will reinforce educational inequalities

The Labour-led Government’s decision to seek “expressions of interest” from groups interested in providing a tertiary savings scheme is a clear indication that they will never be committed to a fully funded public tertiary education system, says the Alliance.

Co-leader Jill Ovens says private savings schemes are not the answer to burgeoning student debt.

“A private savings scheme for tertiary education absolves the Government from responsibility for funding public education and entrenches the injustice that is user pays,” Ms Ovens said .

She says working class families struggle to meet weekly expenses such as rent and electricity, largely because of the meagre pay and conditions that they have to put up with.

“They will never be able to afford to save for their children’s tertiary education, and nor should they have to.”

The Alliance says public tertiary education is a public good, with social and economic benefits. Potential tertiary students should not have to rely on parents or grandparents putting money away in a corporate-controlled piggy bank for public tertiary education.

“That is obscene!” Ms Ovens says. “Labour has forgotten that public tertiary education is not a commodity to be purchased by only those who can afford it.”

The Alliance, along with the student movement and education unions, has consistently opposed private tertiary savings schemes for public tertiary education, and Ms Ovens says members will not give up this fight.

“The Alliance offers an alternative to funding public tertiary education that is fair and socially just for all. It involves abolishing tuition fees, implementing a living allowance for all students and writing off existing student debt.

“If we were to divert a large chunk of the current surplus towards education and implement a more progressive taxation system, where those who were the recipients of free education and who are now earning very high incomes contributed more through tax, then New Zealand could easily return to the fully funded public tertiary education system that we all once knew and enjoyed – without debt,” Ms Ovens said.

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