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Tertiary education – a “public good”

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, August 5th, 2014 - 14 comments
Categories: election 2014, greens, internet party, labour, mana, Metiria Turei, russel norman, tertiary education - Tags:

The Green Party is launching their “Election Priority for Students” at Auckland University today from 2-3 pm in the Auckland University Quad.  Russel Norman and Metiria Turei will be presenting it together, indicating it will  most likely have a financial ficus, and considerations of individual, social and community well being.

Green Party election priority student 2014

The Greens have had strong tertiary education and support for students policies for a long time.  They describe education as a “public good and an economic investment”.  That means education is an investment for the future of the community and society, and not something to be bought by and sold to the individuals doing courses.

Key points in their policies:

Working towards a debt free, no fees, system where everyone will be able to access a universal student living allowance, and where tertiary education is available to all Kiwis.

As they work towards this they will:

Progressively reduce fees, reduce barriers to doing courses (e.g. by providing child care for those who need it) introduce a debt write off scheme.

Other opposition parties have some similar policies:

Mana Party:

Abolish all fees for tertiary students of all ages, and provide students with a living allowance (or Universal Basic Income) while studying.

Develop a plan to write off student debt. In the meantime, there should be no further interest on student loans.

Provide students with community-based jobs to help them complete their courses and reduce their debt.

Internet Party:  They have made free tertiary education and student loans a priority.

Labour Party: So far they have focused on school education and have a very comprehensive policy on it. They will also ensure all under 20 year olds are “in work, education or training”.

The Greens also have a strong focus on early childhood and school  education, placing them firmly within community networks. I will be interested to see the aspects of student support that the Greens will prioritise this election.

democracy and education



Today at Auckland University, Russel Norman and Metiria Turei announced a smart green policy – affordable, sustainable, and it will ease the financial burden on students – a Green Card for off peak travel on public transport:

  1. All tertiary students and apprentices will get free off-peak travel on buses, trains, and ferries with a Student Green Card. All students attending universities, wānanga, polytechnics and Private Training Establishments, as well as those training through New Zealand Apprenticeships, will be eligible for the Green Card.

  2. This will benefit up to 325,000 tertiary students, as well as approximately 28,000 people training under the New Zealand Apprenticeship scheme.

  3. Off-peak travel will be free between the hours of 9am and 3pm, and from 6.30pm until the end of service on weekdays. It also covers all weekends and public holidays.

  4. The Student Green Card will cost between $20 million-30 million per year. The costings are based on an increase in trips of 30 percent in response to the free travel on the Green Card, and would cost the Crown between $1.70-$2.20 per passenger trip. This will be funded by re-prioritised spending from the National Land Transport Fund.


14 comments on “Tertiary education – a “public good””

  1. Chooky 1

    karol +100 Good Post !…interesting to have all the policies from the Left there… except Labour as yet

    imo young people and students and anyone interested in tertiary education will go for the strongest and best deal policy for them

    ….at the moment it looks like Mana and Internet have a free tertiary education policy …whereas Greens will work towards this ..(i hope the Greens don’t lose votes here)

    …and I dont know what Labour’s policy is on tertiary education…fees , interest , loans? etc ( although they have a good policy for Continuing education)

    My view is that tertiary education is of crucial important both for the country and the individual…. and FREE access for all New Zealanders, whatever their age, is very important! ( imo loans and interest should be written off)…Universities and other education in New Zealand should not DEPEND on the fees paid by overseas students!…(.which warps our education system imo)

    Tertiary Education is a Priority….the NACT Motorways should be scrapped…and savings put into Tertiary education.

    John Key’s NACT has let New Zealand education down badly and particularly University Education

    • karol 1.1

      Well, I think the Greens have a well worked out policy – working towards free and debt free education, plus universal allowances, and considering how to pay for it, etc. – and also having interim measures to reduce financial stress on students now.

      The IP and Mana have statements to do away with all that, but no plan how to do it.

      Any of the 3 party’s will be dependent on negotiations with Labour, should they replace the current government. So I doubt that IMP would get immediate free and debt free tertiary education. Greens seem to me to be being practical.

      The voters, of course, will make up their own minds. One thing’s for certain, there’ll be a lot of pressure on Labour to agree to free & debt free education from these other parties.

  2. blue leopard 2

    Thanks for the summary, Karol – it is very helpful to see a quick comparison of the different partys’ policies (and encourages me to go and look at the details!)

    This issue over tertiary education is one that really gets my goat. The least that those who push the idea that ‘we all have a choice’ could do is not remove opportunities. This appears to have been too difficult a concept for National to grasp and they have been busily dissolving any ‘opportunities’ of social mobility we had left.

    It appears to me that only some people can afford to get higher education these days. Student welfare has clearly been formulated by those who are so blinded by privilege they can’t see how unlikely and unviable it is for people without such privilege to choose to take on massive loans and the paultry-less-than-the-dole rate of the allowance – if you can get it – is an absolute killer too. The work load per paper/course has increased and so has the number of papers required to qualify for ‘full-time’ study (this makes it harder to pass and more likely that one won’t qualify for assistance in the next year, not to mention what it does to stress levels).

    Those who believe the idea that ‘people have a choice’ are completely disengaged in more ways than one. Any choice is becoming a receding memory, thanks to people who enjoyed lots of positive opportunities (due to their enlightened older generations working to ensure that was the case) and who now are choosing to rip such opportunities away from those who follow them.

    I wait with baited breathe for the Green’s policy release…

    • karol 2.1

      It looks to me like it won’t be a new policy, but a statement of a priority for them in post election negotiation – maybe some practical thing they will do as a priority part of their policies.

  3. karol 3

    Damn! Today’s announcement (off a student & apprentices Green Card for free travel on off peak public transport) is a very smart, affordable and sustainable policy on so many levels!

    They cite the success of something similar in Palmerston north:

    “Research from 2011 found 67 percent of students were spending money on public transport, with an average spend of $35.40 per week. In Auckland, tertiary students were spending an average of $40.50 per week.

    “Students are facing rising living cost pressures; transport, food, power, rent, but often have very restricted income. The Student Green Card is a way of helping to reduce costs to help students make ends meet.

    “A Student Green Card will encourage smarter transport use and ease congestion for all travellers. It will help to shift cars off our roads, while making lower income students more mobile.

    “This is an idea that works. The Palmerston North free bus scheme, which has been in place since 2004, has resulted in a 38 percent rise in student patronage of buses, and car journeys have dropped by more than half since it started.

    “By increasing student patronage on our public transport network, we can cost-effectively provide improved services for everyone. As more people take the bus or train throughout the day, we can increase the number of services, which in turn will make public transport a convenient option for even more people.

    “The Student Green Card will also help the environment. A well utilised public transport system is a vastly more efficient way to get around, and one that improves air quality and reduces carbon emissions,” Dr Norman said.

    • Chooky 3.1

      Latest from Morning Report ( Nact’s Mouthpiece):

      Suzi Ferguson used John Key to dis the Greens policy …before Russel Norman had even opened his mouth!

      (policy of a Green card enabling poor university students and other tertiary students and apprentices to access public transport for free especially in off peak times)

      Russel Norman handled himself very well however and called her out …saying she had opened his interview with an “assault” by John Key!

      … Russel Norman also coolly countered Key’s arguments that it was too expensive to spend on students by pointing out the overseas debt that John Key has accrued for New Zealand ..and the wasted money on motorways

      Espiner followed up the attack on Green policy by inviting a business sector interviewee on an unrelated matter to comment on Green policy…of course it was in the negative.

      Morning Report should be overhauled after the Election..it is biased and a mouthpiece of John Key!

      However it does show how sensitive John Key is to the Greens and the issue of university students and affordable education….so if the Left concentrates on this it will be a WINNER ! ( Helen Clark won an Election on the youth vote and the issue of better more affordable tertiary education)

      ( Nactional has neglected young New Zealanders shamelessly…In Holland , Germany, France, Scandinavia and many other countries tertiary education is relatively FREE, if not completely …In New Zealand many very bright students are deciding that they and their families can not afford it…which leaves New Zealand university education for the children of the wealthy…whose parents can afford it! eg Bill English and John Key)

      …Under Nactional there is a shocking waste of young New Zealanders talent !!!!..It is going to create a class system in New Zealand….where only the children of the wealthy can afford a tertiary education… “the chosen”. This betrays the egalitarian ideals and education system of our New Zealand ancestors both Pakeha and Maori

      • alwyn 3.1.1

        You really should get up a bit earlier in the morning Chooky.
        National didn’t get their opinion broadcast before “Russel Norman had even opened his mouth!”
        There was a full discourse of this by Norman just after 6.00 am. The National comment was made just before they repeated the whole Green spiel at 8.00 am.
        Actually it is quite normal for Morning Report to start with a Labour or Green rant against any National Party proposal before the National plan has been given for the first time. When it is a Labour or a Green proposal they only give a brief comment before a repeat of the whole proposal at incredible, admiring length.

        • Chooky

          i would say 8am is more of a peak listening time than 6am…so my criticism stands

          • alwyn

            To each his own, of course.
            I tend to listen from 0600 until about 0730. After that it is just repetition.
            Actually I would have thought it lost audience after about 0745 as people went off to work.
            Who knows though. You may be right.

            • Chooky

              well i work and am usually up by 7.30am…and dont forget many people listen to the radio on their way to work which can be anywhere between 7.00 and 8.00 or 9.00am

  4. RedBaronCV 4

    Liking it. At some level too I wouldn’t mind seeing our universities letting go of the international ratings chase and just strive to be excellent in what we teach and do. Tertiary education seems to be at some level degenerating into this awful international blandness with a high quota of “group speak” that must at some level be shutting out new, different or alternative ideas.

    • Chooky 4.1

      +100…yes in the past New Zealand universities have turned out some leaders in their fields without international ratings eg. Ernest Rutherford … and many, many more

  5. The green card is a great idea. Free off peak travel for students will be of great benefit to them.
    Free tertiary education won’t be back in NZ for quite some time, if ever, so focus on interest free loans and cashless benefits is sound policy.

    • Chooky 5.1

      werent John Key’s NACT’s sales of State Owned Assets supposed to go towards education?..they should be called to account on this

      .. New Zealand youth are the future of New Zealand…and they have been treated unfairly and harshly by John Key and Nactional….saddling them up with huge debt at a very young age( unless of course you have wealthy parents)…and selling off our university qualifications to overseas buyers and the children of the wealthy

      Free Tertiary Education and the cancelling of debt should be a priority of the Left parties imo

      Students need to get out and demonstrate on this issue and then vote for the Party that best represents their rights

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