INDEPENDENT NEWS

Alliance tertiary education policy announced

Published: Mon 20 Sep 1999 01:35 PM
Jim Anderton MP Mon Sep 20 1999
Phasing out of tertiary fees, zero interest on student loans and the introduction of allowances for all students are the main features of the Alliance tertiary education policy.
It was released at Auckland University today by Alliance leader Jim Anderton and education spokesperson Dr Liz Gordon.
The Alliance estimates that full-time student numbers would be increased by about 31,000.
The $425 million cost of the tertiary education policy would be covered by the reintroduction of an unimproved-value tax on commercial land (UVT), which exempts land such as farms, residential homes, Crown land, Maori customary land, and forest reserves. It was removed in 1990, the same year student fees were introduced and the $3 billion student debt began to accumulate.
Fees for public tertiary education will be removed over a three year period under the policy, with a third of the fees being removed each year. For example, a student paying $3000 a year in fees will have them eliminated progressively by $1000 a year.
All students would be paid a living allowance at the level of the unemployment benefit.
Interest on all student loans would be set at zero. The tertiary loans scheme would continue to fund the shortfall in fees and allowances until tertiary education was made entirely free, and then be abolished. A full independent enquiry will be held into existing and future student loan debt and the social and economic consequences of it.
The Alliance Partnership 2000 policy announced in August committed to increased funding for university-based research, including allowing universities and other public sector research facilities to have access to the Public Good Science Fund.
A Commission will be appointed to address the future shape of the tertiary sector, including quality issues and the role of Polytechnics, colleges of education and private training establishments.
Students' associations will regain their universal mandatory status, and academic freedom guaranteed. A small tertiary education staffing unit will be set up within the Ministry of Education to provide a link between the government's funding decisions and implementation.
Dr Gordon said tertiary fees and the student debt burden are endangering New Zealand's future.
'Students now owe more than $3 billion on their loans. It's driving our best and brightest overseas and it's denying many young people a chance for higher education.
'Last week the University of Auckland published a study showing that the number of students from poor schools going to university has dropped by 23%. Just 8% of students enrolling in university in 1997 were from schools ranked decile 1 to 3, the bottom level of schools. The trend is the same at polytechnics.'
Jim Anderton said New Zealand's future is dependent on investing in higher education.
'Our future prosperity depends on creating high-technology industries based on the skills and knowledge of New Zealanders. We need to invest in higher education and support our young people.'
He said UVT would be a form of wealth tax. It is levied on the unimproved-value of commercial land over $500,000 and exempts land such as farms, residential homes, Crown land, Maori customary land, and forest reserves,
'The greatest period of expansion in commercial property in New Zealand's history occurred in the mid-80s, when it was still in force. It is a fair way to raise the money we need to invest in New Zealand's future,' Jim Anderton said.
ENDS
(note. earlier killed version moved with incorrect byline.)

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