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February 22, 2010 | by  | in News |
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John Key remembers existence of Tertiary Education Portfolio

Promptly plots tweaking student loans and allowances, maybe

Prime Minister John Key has signaled action will be taken to address the “increasingly urgent problems” in the tertiary education sector in his statement to parliament earlier this month.

Key said there “is no more important area for reform than education”, and indicated the student loans and allowances schemes could be one of the policy areas under scrutiny.

Key suggested student support policies would be examined “to ensure that taxpayers’ generosity is not being exploited by those who refuse to take their tertiary studies seriously, or who show little inclination to transition from tertiary training into work.”

Getting more value out of the government’s investment in tertiary education is another priority.

“The government will be progressing the policy changes needed to ensure that tertiary education providers provide courses that are relevant to the modern job market and that are of a consistently high quality,” Key said.

Key expressed concern that because of an “inflexible and bureaucratic funding and policy framework”, universities were finding it “increasingly difficult to produce the world-class graduates New Zealand’s economy demands.”

Co-President of the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA) David Do supports the government’s intention to work with the tertiary sector to ensure high quality tertiary education. However, he says this should not come at the expense of hard working students.

“We reject the characterisation that students do not take their studies seriously. Many juggle part-time work with full-time study, and borrow to live from the student loans scheme simply because they are not eligible for student allowances.”

VUWSA President Max Hardy is encouraged that the government has recognised that tertiary education is a priority.

“We have concerns, however, that they may be signalling a move towards increasing the burden that individual students must bear in receiving their education.

“Education is a right and a social good. We will be attempting to work closely with the government to ensure the student perspective is heard,” Hardy says.

Key’s speech did not include any possible solutions to the problems faced by the sector.

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