OECD report confirms student support inadequate
Figures released in the OECD publication Education at a Glance 2008 confirm New Zealand’s lack of investment in student
support, and the high cost borne by students and their families.
“This report proves we have a high cost and limited student support tertiary system that leaves graduates burdened by
debt simply for getting an education,” said Paul Falloon, Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’
The 1.5% of GDP spent on tertiary education in New Zealand is equal to the OECD average, however a greater share is
attributable to students and their families. Private expenditure in the form of tuition fees accounted for a massive 40%
of expenditure on tertiary institutions, while the OECD average is only 27%.
“It’s clear that the lion’s share of funding to the tertiary sector is coming from those who can least afford it – young
students and their families,” said Falloon. “This is an inequitable and unsustainable situation given large tuition fees
and the high cost of living New Zealanders face. There’s nothing spare to give,” concluded Falloon.
The report reveals the average fee for a New Zealand degree-level qualification was US$2,671, while eight OECD countries
surveyed charged no fees. Diploma-level average fees were $2,489 and six countries charged no fees at all at this level.
“New Zealand is often compared to Ireland, and along with Norway, Denmark and Sweden, it charges no fees for tertiary
education with excellent results academically and for their economies. We would do well to follow this example”, said
“Contrary to misleading and inflammatory claims by the NZVCC, only around 23% of government expenditure on tertiary
education goes directly to student support, only slightly above the OECD average of 18%, said Falloon. “It’s important
to note that much of this is in the form of loans to cover basic living costs that must be repaid, contributing to the
$10billion of student loan debt that is now smothering individual and societal economic growth in this country. This can
hardly be seen as positive”, added Falloon.
Students are looking forward to policy announcements in the build-up to the general election that show commitment and
genuine interest in addressing the lack of student support, and are advocating a universal student living allowance as