Letter to the editor: Setting it straight on user-pays in tertiary education
Labour’s promise of a return to (limited) free tertiary education appears to be unsettling some, for whom the last thirty years has been dominated by the implementation and bedding-in of user-pays (often gradually, so as not to spook the punters) ; reduced-tax; and minimalist-government ideology;
I replied to Ms Usher’s public expression of “guilt twinges”…
from: Frank Macskasy <email@example.com>
to: The Wellingtonian <firstname.lastname@example.org>
date: Sat, Feb 13, 2016
subject: Letter to the editor
Sue Usher defends user-pays in Universities, asserting, “anyone who takes out a loan on anything surely knows that there’s no such thing as a free lunch; you are not given money, you are lent it”. (letters, 11 Feb)
Prior to 1992, there were no student loans/debt. Tertiary education was paid from taxes, with the expectation that graduates would, in turn, pay for following generations.
That was the social contract.
That contract dissolved when successive governments introduced user-pays, with seven tax cuts in 1986, 1988, 1996, 1998, 2008, 2009, and 2010. The burden of higher education shifted from society, onto individuals. By 2014, student debt reached $14.8 billion.
Ms Usher admits this unfairness, “I acknowledge that repaying a loan and trying to buy a first home is a mighty challenge and feel slightly guilty that my generation did not have any such system”.
John Key and Tertiary Education minister, Steven Joyce, should also feel a twinge of guilt. Both obtained their University degrees free, paying almost nothing.
Those who parrot the cliche that education is a “private good” should consider if our doctors, scientists, engineers, teachers, et-al, all decided to pack up and move overseas.
Or if none of us could read and write.
Education benefits us all, which user-pays fails to recognise.
[address and phone number supplied]
Ministry of Education: Student Loan Scheme Annual Report 2014
Fairfax media: Joyce defends student loan crackdown
Fairfax media: Student loan arrest could prompt others to address debt
NZ Herald: ‘I don’t think I’m a criminal’
Teara.govt.nz: National Party – The ‘mother of all budgets’
Sunday Star Times: Politics – John Key – A snapshot
Wikipedia: Steven Joyce
National Party: Steven Joyce
This blogpost was first published on The Daily Blog on 14 February 2016.
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