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Government’s $2.8 billion fees-free tertiary education policy is an 'unfair', failure: National

The Government’s $2.8 billion fees-free tertiary policy is “unfair” and has failed, says National’s associate education spokesperson Simeon Brown.

With 2500 fewer people in tertiary education, which includes universities, polytechs, wananga and private training establishments, in the first year of the four-year policy, Mr Brown called the policy a “big fail”.

Even if more people participated in higher education over the coming years, Mr Brown said the policy still remained unfair with Kiwis on lower incomes paying for the education of students, who will earn more than them over their lives.

"Those people that do go to university, statistics show that they’re going to earn more than a $1 million more in their lives that those who don’t,” Mr Brown told Breakfast.

“Our view is people should be investing in their future just like when I went to university.”

"The fact of the matter is the people who are paying for this are the truckies, the shop assistants, the people who work as cleaners, they’re paying their taxes so the people who are going to go to university anyway are getting fees free,”

Education Minister Chris Hipkins said yesterday around 50,000 people are expected to take advantage of the scheme in its first year.

“The impact on students’ lives is already clear. Statistics for January to September 2018 show that 31,600 fewer students borrowed to pay tertiary fees. The amount students had to borrow for fees also fell, down $193 million on the same time last year."

Mr Brown said those going to university, which was already 80 per cent subsidised, should make an investment in their future.

“I believe going to university is an investment in your future, you get a huge private benefit in terms of an increased income from that.”

“We are seeing these people get a huge private benefit and those people who are paying for it are on lower incomes, who are working hard, paying taxes and we don’t see that as fair.”

Simeon Brown labelled the four-year policy unfair and a failure, with less people involved in tertiary education in its first year. Source: Breakfast