By: Claire Trevett
Labour has set out plans to plough an extra $3 billion into tertiary education as sweeteners to students, including a $50 boost to student allowances and a big increase in the expected cost of its policy to offer three years’ free education to all school leavers and those retraining.
In total its education package is $6 billion – $2 billion more than the $4 billion it initially set aside.
That is primarily because of a new tertiary education package, including a $275 million a year boost to student allowances, lifting the allowance by $50 a week from about $170 a week to $220 a week. Labour will also restore the ability to get student allowances and loans throughout long-term courses such as medicine, saying it made no sense to cut them off.
It will also bring forward its plan to offer three years’ fees-free post-school education so that it begins next year. The estimated cost of that has increased to $2 billion over four years. By 2021/22 it will now be expected to cost $743 million a year.
When she took over as leader, Jacinda Ardern made tertiary education one of her priorities. She said it would mean more students could go on to study and get qualifications with less debt. She had been concerned about the cost of living for students, who said $170 a week was not enough to cover rent, let alone other costs.
The three-years package would be phased in, so from the beginning of 2018 all students starting tertiary education would get one year of study without paying fees; those starting in 2019 would get two years; and from 2020 they would get three years.
The extra support was included in Labour’s revised Fiscal Plan following the pre-election opening of the books by Treasury last week.
Source: NZ Herald