Universal student allowance welcomed
14 October 2008
Universal student allowance welcomed –
Labour begins to turn full circle
QPEC is delighted at the government announcement of a universal student allowance to be phased in over three years if Labour leads the government after next month’s election.
It’s a policy which is long overdue. Students have quite rightly pointed out over a long period of time that they are the only group in the community who have to borrow to pay for food and rent.
A universal allowance set at a liveable level would ease the huge burden students have borne since tertiary fees as we know them today were first introduced 20 years ago.
Helen Clark’s announcement today is the beginning of a welcome return to policy which the previous Labour government (1984 to 1990) undermined and abandoned.
The policy will unfortunately only slow down the growth of the $10 billion student debt mountain rather than reduce it because tertiary education fees continue their relentless rise. Over the past five years they have increased at well above the inflation rate.
It’s a pleasure also to hear National yesterday talk of plans for what they describe as an even more generous student allowance although it will be means tested.
QPEC will look forward to seeing the details of their policy.
However we believe access to tertiary education is a right of citizenship and we therefore support fully funded tertiary education for everyone regardless of family income.
Deeply disappointing has been the reaction of some university vice chancellors. Their complaint that the money should be going into the universities to improve quality rather than to support students is defensive and short-sighted. The VCs should be welcoming this government policy while at the same time working with students and community groups to apply pressure for greater funding so quality is not compromised.