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Free tertiary education robs the poor for the rich

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By Matthew Rhodes

The Labour Party's latest election lolly is free tertiary education. They want to give students three "free" years of full-time study, with the first year becoming zero fees from next year.

On the surface, the policy seems appealing. Labour claim it will make education more accessible to everyone. But is that what will actually be achieved, or is this just a bribe aimed at catapulting Labour into Government, as Helen Clark did in 2005 with interest-free student loans?

Any perception that the current Government doesn't generously support students is misguided. Taxpayers currently subsidise the costs of tertiary education by about 84 per cent, and all initial up-front costs of university can be covered by the generous student loan system.

This scheme enables all individuals, irrespective of their socioeconomic background, to pursue higher education and gain tertiary qualifications.

Loans are interest free and the balances aren't even inflation adjusted - so taxpayers heavily subsidise borrowers over time. They are paid back only if, and when, a graduate earns over an income........

© New Zealand Herald