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February 26, 2007 | by  | in News |
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Report highlights barriers to education

Plenty of room for improvement for NZ

An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development report released last month has highlighted a number of barriers in the New Zealand tertiary education system.

The report acknowledges that New Zealand is “well-positioned for further development” and recognised high tertiary education entry and graduation rates, but also says that “the current system does not address to the full extent the fi nancial barriers students face in accessing tertiary education.”

New Zealand Union of Students’ Association (NZUSA) Co-President Joey Randall says that New Zealand is “one of the most indebted societies when it comes to tertiary education.” “We have the highest rate, for instance, of borrowing for a scheme, so as a percentage of what we spend, it was 400 times the average for the OECD for loans.”

Randall also says that 30% of the government’s ‘investment’ in tertiary education is done through student loans, meaning a significant chunk of government money is actually retrieved.

“The investment is not actually an investment at all. When they say that they contribute signifi cant amounts of money toward student support and costs, actually at the end of the day they get most of that money back because they collect on loans,” says Randall.

The report also highlights the issue of eligibility based on parental income until age 25: “[In] a country where children become fairly independent from their parents around their late teens, the age threshold at which parental income is taken into account for allowance eligibility seems too high.”

85.4% of full-time students received an allowance in 1990. By 2005, this had been slashed to less than a third.

The report suggests that both the living-costs loan and student allowance entitlements be raised, and that means-testing of parental income for allowance eligibility be re-assessed.

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About the Author ()

With her take-no-prisoners, kick-ass attitude, former News Editor Laura McQuillan adequately makes up for her lack of stature. Roaming the corridors (and underground tunnels) of the University by day, and hunting vampires and Nazi war criminals by night, McQuillan will stop at nothing to bring you the freshest news.

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