With the New Zealand election just a few short weeks away, the Labour Party has created plenty of discussion with their policy of three years of free tertiary education for school leavers.
Labour will implement their policy progressively over the next few years, not all at once. They will however start the policy off next year, so if this is your last year at school, a win for Labour could mean you don’t pay a whole bunch of money in course fees next year. Winner.
What about leavers not going to uni?
But is this fair if less than a third of school leavers actually enrol to study at degree level at a university or polytechnic? What about the rest of us?
That’s the question the head of the Industry Training Federation, Josh Williams, was asking when the policy was announced.
Williams believes the 148,000 young Kiwis in apprenticeships or industry training actually are the largest block of tertiary students in the country.
"Our students get paid while they get qualified, which is better than free,’ Williams says. “Their employers provide the teaching and buildings and equipment, which saves the student and the taxpayer. Our students don't get into debt, because they don't take student loans. They pay taxes instead, start their KiwiSaver, and gain the exact skills that industries need because their campus is a real business operating in the productive economy."
Labour’s policy relates to all NZQA approved programmes
Labour’s policy actually does relate to apprenticeships and to any higher education course approved by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA). It covers only course fees, but more support is offered to students through a proposed $50/week boost to student allowances if Labour gets elected.
Naturally enough, Labour’s policy has been rubbished by the National Party, even after they themselves proposed a massive boost in education spending. National are also against the policy offered by New Zealand First to wipe student debt for students who stay and work in NZ after qualifying.
Not every policy is a winner
School principals seem to think that the new policies anounced by National – digital academies, all students learning a second language, more national standards reporting - could likely cause schools more difficulties than they thought.
It seems that regardless of which party wins the election, education and training after high school will be an important part of what they offered to voters. That’s important because it’s actually yours and my future they are talking about. Make sure the voters in your house know that.
Alisha Parker juggles science studies with hospitality (read waitress),writing and laughing. While keen to vote, she worries she may actually start to enjoy politics.
What’s in it for you (the election that is)
The New Zealand Electoral Commission website (home of the Orange Man)
On The Fence – interactive information for first time voters
Design + Democracy – part of Massey’s College of Creative Arts
I Vote NZ – The Electoral Commission’s Facebook page