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Student issues are finally being addressed

The Alliance tertiary policy was welcomed by student leaders following its’ release in the Auckland University Student Quad on Monday.

“The Alliance tertiary education policy is the first to properly address student issues,” said AUSA education co-vice president Eva Neitzert. “Unlike previous policies, the Alliance does more than just talk about building the much touted knowledge economy – it actually promises to invest sufficient money to achieve it.”

“It was particularly pleasing to see that constructive steps were being taking toward returning to free education with the Alliance policy aiming to have free education within three years,” commented Sam Huggard, administration co-vice president. “This is a crucial step not only in order to ensure that student hardship is alleviated but also to allow more people from lower socio-economic groups to participate in tertiary education, and thus reverse the worrying trends of low decile school leavers not following on to tertiary education. These trends were highlighted by a University of Auckland study released this week and also by a joint 1998 by NZUSA (New Zealand University Students’ Association) and APSU (Aotearoa Post-compulsory Students Union). The 1998 study showed that 50% of students from Decile 9 and 10 (the most wealthy) schools go on to tertiary study compared with 6.25% students from Decile 1 and 2 schools.”

“Full allowances at the level of the unemployment benefit would finally allow students to get on with their studies rather than comprising these because of part-time jobs or huge financial stress,” said Sherid Thackwray, co-education vice president.

“The removal of interest on loans while studying will also immediately reduce the financial strain on many students. Currently, student debt is spiraling out of control and it is not uncommon for loan repayments to not even cover the interest accrued over the year,” continued Ms Neitzert, “however, it was disappointing not see any concrete steps in respect of the huge debts many recent graduates are facing which are often driving them overseas and, thereby, draining New Zealand of its’ brightest and often most educated.”

“AUSA welcomes the focus on the quality of the education. Universities are embarrassingly underfunded which is reflected in their need to raise fees every year and cut resource materials and staff. It seems clear that without many of the measures within the Alliance policy New Zealand Universities will be well on their way to being of a third world standard,” concluded Ms Neitzert.

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