INDEPENDENT NEWS

National Forces Vic Students Into Debt

Published: Mon 15 Nov 1999 05:42 PM
Policies implemented by the National Government have resulted in large numbers of Victoria University students clocking up huge debts under the student loan scheme, according to figures released by Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association President-elect Chris Hipkins earlier today.
Since 1992 the number of Victoria University students borrowing under the loan scheme has more than doubled, going from 2969 to 6430. The amount borrowed has also sky-rocketed from $12,692,235 to $37,160,900.
"Perhaps what is most concerning is that while there was a marginal decrease in the number of overall borrowers between 1997 and 1998, the total amount borrowed still increased, graphically illustrating how government funding cuts are loading even greater burdens onto individual students," Chris Hipkins said.
National figures also make for grim reading. In 1992 27% of the university student population borrowed $103,300,898, while in 1998 48% of students borrowed $311,312,648. The average amount borrowed per student, per year rose from $4,148 to $6,685.
"It's time to face the facts, the number of students forced to borrow money to study has doubled in the last six years under National. The amount students have borrowed each year has doubled in the last six years under National. The total amount students have borrowed has skyrocketed to over $3.5 billion in the last six years under National," Mr. Hipkins said
"The whole set up is an absolute disaster area. The Ministry of Education's own projections can't predict whether there will be a time when the total amount borrowed will hit a ceiling. I could be finished my degree, have worked a full working life, and be retired and the amount of student debt could still be growing unless something is done," Mr. Hipkins said.
"Student debt has the potential to cripple the country in the not too distant future if we're not careful. It strikes me as amazing that the National Party who are so hell-bent on reducing the country's overseas debt are allowing this to happen. All we are doing is replacing a collective debt burden with thousands of individual debt burdens, and this from a government that preaches social responsibility,"
"It has become blatantly clear over the last six years that the only way to deal with the problems facing the tertiary sector is to vote National out of government. They are both unwilling and unable to deal with the mess they have created, so we need to move them aside and move on,' Mr. Hipkins concluded.

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