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NZ First Promises no student loans

By Adam Pearse

Political party, New Zealand First have announced an initiative that looks to wipe student loans for those that stay and continue working in New Zealand.

The Winston Peters-led party promises that as well as implementing a universal allowance for tertiary students, their government would ensure a debt-free degree, so long as you worked in New Zealand for as long as you studied.

The cost of the venture will come to nearly $5 billion in an effort to, as Peters puts it, “deal to student debt because it’s getting worse and worse. It’s just impossible for young people”.

Science student, Morgan Heslop says the proposal is good on the surface but as you look deeper, cracks emerge.

“At face value, it looks like a pretty sweet deal, but the further you read the more problematic it becomes.

“It’s highly conditional – study the right degree, at a comparatively low level, get the best grades in an already highly competitive environment, and get it all done quickly because the longer you study, the longer you stay effectively in debt.”

Heslop says she approves of the universal allowance idea but sees the rest as a waste of tax dollars.

“I like the idea of a universal allowance, but honestly I think the rest of the scheme seems like a waste of money. If the median repayment time is already as low as six-and-a-half years, then I think it’s better to keep our interest-free loans and give everybody the financial opportunity to take on tertiary study.”

Science graduate and soon-to-be teacher, Saskia Gilbert has more optimism for the project but says there are still questions to be answered.

“It’s a great incentive for people who don’t want to go to uni because they deem it too expensive. It would be amazing if we could guarantee jobs afterwards but I’m a bit sceptical of how it would work based on that.”

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