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May 27, 2006 | by  | in News |
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The New Zealand Students’ Association are to publish an opinion piece in the Sunday Star-Times, after the newspaper published an article which they believe gave an unfair portrayal of students.

The article, published in the newspaper on 19 March, claimed it was “dispelling the myths about student loans.” In it, Ruth Laugesen challenged the loan repayment periods touted by NZUSA since 1999. Laugesen also goes on to say NZUSA has “terrified students and parents” with predictions of loan repayment times which, according to recent figures, have proved to be inaccurate.

NZUSA Co-President Conor Roberts, speaking from the NZUSA campus tour last week, says although it was not a “huge issue”, the piece “put NZUSA and students in a bad light” and he was upset by the tone of the piece.

Laugesen says she had based the article on new figures showing that the length of time taken for the average student to pay off their loan was shorter than both NZUSA and Ministry of Education figures suggested. The article also states two distinct groups of graduates are forming: those who pay off their loans very quickly and those cannot cope with repayments.

She added that the issue was one of a “battle of the [prediction] models that is still being slugged out”. NZUSA, she says, in the past have been “very fixed” on their estimates of long repayment periods and could have used the available information to lobby the Government more effectively.

While NZUSA has had a smaller focus on loan repayment times in the more recent past, the model used to estimate repayment periods has come under increasing criticism. A 2004 paper written by then Massey University honours student Rachel Baxter argues the model made some dubious assumptions about graduates’ incomes.

NZUSA’s response to the article will appear in the Sunday Star-Times on 2 April, a day after student loans go
interest free.

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About the Author ()

Nicola Kean: feature writer, philanthropist, womanly woman. Nicola is the smallest member of the Salient team, but eats really large pieces of lasagne. Favourites include 80s music, the scent of fresh pine needles and long walks on the beach.

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