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NZ First Supports Universal Student Allowance

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
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19 September 2008 - New Zealand First will introduce a universal student allowance, party leader Rt Hon Winston Peters announced in a speech to Otago University students today.

"The student allowance system is in desperate need of repair. Government figures up to 2006 show that while the number of students enrolled in tertiary study has increased, the number receiving a student allowance has actually fallen. Fewer than 60,000 full time students received an allowance in 2006," said Mr Peters.

"In the past few years, modifications to the student allowance have resulted in lower parental income thresholds, and a lower age of eligibility, but the number of ineligible students has actually increased.

"New Zealand First policy on this matter is simple. There should be a universal student allowance.

"The government's own numbers show that extending allowances to all eligible students, projected to be around 240,000 next year, would cost $728 million per year. We estimate it might cost slightly more than that, depending on the exact number of students enrolled.

"That is serious money, but the cause is also a serious and worthwhile one as it is an investment in the future.

"A universal student allowance would encourage more students into tertiary education. It would reduce the dependence on loans and the cycle of huge debt that many of our graduates face, especially those who seek the highest qualifications or choose careers in areas such as medicine.

"A universal student allowance would lower the number of talented young New Zealanders afraid to return home from overseas because of the loan debt waiting for them. In short, it would help train and retain the smart, skilled workforce this country needs.

"New Zealand First understands that many young people go overseas to further their studies and to taste life in other countries but that most want to come home and help rebuild the country. Without the burden of debt, they will," said Mr Peters.

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