NZUSA: Hits and Misses in Productivity Commission Draft
The New Zealand Union of Students' Associations today welcomes the release of the Productivity Commissions long-awaited draft report. While there are some highlights, and the Commission has clearly listened to submitters on problems and barriers within the system, NZUSA feels that some of the Commission’s suggestions and recommendations may actually exacerbate the problems. NZUSA is opposed to the addition of interest on student loans.
"We know that women and other primary caregivers are take years longer to repay their loans when interest is applied. An interest bearing loan system also results in these people paying more than those who don't take out of the workforce. While New Zealand’s wages remain low, and the return to tertiary education so poor any loans scheme will require a significant subsidy if it is to encourage access" says NZUSA President Linsey Higgins.
"This move is promoted by the Commission to remove barriers to education yet we know that interest will increase barriers. What we need is free tertiary education. Tertiary education looks dramatically different to what it did 30 years ago and it encompasses the university student to the apprentice builder. Entering a career in 2016 is incredibly difficult without some post secondary education so we should start treating tertiary like the new compulsory education and fund it appropriately."
"We are supportive towards the idea of students having greater flexibility to move between institutions. Study should be able to move with a student and their life needs, rather than penalise them by not acknowledging prior study. We applaud the Scottish model where all local polytechnics are required to have articulation agreements with a university."
NZUSA is hesitant about giving students a large sum of money to chose their education pathway, which looks like privatisation.
"We believe that students should instead be regarded as experts in learning and heard and heeded at all levels of tertiary institutions. If students are given an education grant and poor careers advice and poor student voice systems still exist, then these students are unlikely to make decisions that will ultimately be in their own interests or those of society. It will also make institutions extremely vulnerable, which is also not in students’ interests."
"Ultimately, NZUSA believes there is some good elements to this draft document but are deeply concerned by others. There are some further areas which deserve investigation and can be made good. We will continue to work with the Productivity Commission to work towards a final report that meets the best interests of students."