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10 Years of Interest-Free Loans working for women


10 Years of Interest-Free Loans working for women, but is it time for bonding?

29 September 2015

Media Release: New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations and the Post Primary Teachers' Association

It has been 10 years since the Clark government took interest-free student loans to the 2005 general election.

The milestone has women celebrating the closing gap in repayment times between women and men, which has shrunk from 4 years in 2002 to just sixth months for those who left study in 2011. It now takes men, on average, 6.7 years to pay back their loan and women 7.2 years.

At an event tonight jointly hosted between the Post Primary Teachers’ Association (PPTA) and the national student union (NZUSA), Labour Party finance spokesperson Grant Robertson will discuss the impact of the policy alongside University of Auckland economist Susan St. John.

Susan St. John says she is concerned that the gender repayment time gap is starting to grow again -which may reflect the growing gender pay gap in the workforce and cuts to student support.

PPTA president Angela Roberts says she expects user pays tertiary education to be drawn into the debate over pay equity in New Zealand.

Student debt was a women’s issue because it still takes women sixth months longer on average to pay back their loans, Roberts said.

“That’s down to the persistent and growing gender pay gap in this country.

“Until we have total pay equity, the government needs to ensure women aren't discriminated against in public services. It’s time the policymakers looked at bonding in exchange for free education, at least for state sector workers like teachers.”

Reflecting on the decade of interest-free, NZUSA president Rory McCourt says the policy has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders, but as debt continued to rise more radical options had to be looked at.

“This policy has changed lives allowing people to get out of debt and into housing, businesses and saving for retirement sooner. It shrunk the gender repayment time gap by three and half years. That’s an important achievement.”

“But since 2005 student debt has continued to rise -individually and collectively. The bill hits $15 billion in February and there’s no plan about how to stop the rise of this toxic debt.”

He agreed with Roberts that is was time to look at options like bonding teacher trainees to get on top of the debt problem.


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