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Government not interested in student debt

Labour
2000 web siteThe Government showed in Parliament today that it has no interest in finding ways to reduce the burden of student debt through a fairer student loan and repayment scheme.

During Parliament's question time today, Labour's associate education spokesperson (tertiary) Steve Maharey put Tertiary Education Minister Max Bradford in the firing line over the issue of student debt.

"Almost 250,000 students are in debt to the tune of $3 billion dollars, tertiary fees are at an all time high, and the Government said this is the fairest it can do," Steve Maharey said.

"A recent Auckland University study showed that the number of students from low decile schools who went on to university had dropped significantly in the last few years. Yet when asked about it, Prime Minister Jenny Shipley rejected a plea for lower student interest rates and said current policy was 'the fairest we can do'.

"It is a pathetic response to the issue that is constantly raised as the number concern for New Zealanders leading into the general election. It is not just students and potential students that raise this with us - it is their mums and dads, their grandparents and other family members.

"Labour's tertiary education policy released last week has received an overwhelmingly positive response. New Zealanders realise that if we are become a knowledge based society we have to invest more in the tertiary education sector and in students. Labour values education and we will invest in it.

"For students, that means a fairer student loan scheme. Labour will not charge interest on student loans while full-time and other low income students are still studying and students will not be expected to pay a base interest until they are earning at least $25,000.

"We will ensure a thorough review takes place of the Students Loan scheme and the problem of high student debt.

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