New Zealand First’s new post-secondary education policy has earned the party praise from the New Zealand Union of Students’ Associations (NZUSA).
The Up Front Investment Tertiary Education Policy would use a year-by-year reduction debt base. For every year studied, there would be an expectation of one-year skill exchange. Each year worked in New Zealand would reduce the skill debt by a year. The total cost of the investment is expected to be $4.6 billion. All up-front investment would be recorded by Inland Revenue through national student numbers.
NZUSA president Linsey Higgins describes the policy as “a game changer for students”.
“Significant variances in course costs and graduate wages can see some of our most important members of society such as nurses and teachers left with the burden of debt for longer. This policy treats all graduates as equal. One year’s study equals one year of skills commitment,” says Higgins.
NZ First education spokeswoman Tracey Martin (pictured) says the policy will make greater use of bonding system models for certain industries for teachers, nurses doctors and police that would accelerate skill debt reduction.
People who left New Zealand for further study or work, and did not return or provide a replacement for their role in say medicine, would be pursued for a dollar debt amount, she said.
The Up Front policy would expand the apprentice scheme to provide greater support for small and medium-sized businesses to take on apprentices and to include apprenticeships for non-traditional areas such as truck driving. Martin says this will help minimise skill shortages and unemployment rates. She outlined how skill shortages in areas like construction, science, communications and IT would equate to $1 billion of lost tax revenue in the period ending 2025.