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Labour to make continuing education more accessible

Labour will increase the amount students can get in student allowances and living cost loans by $50 a week, while accelerating our plan to make three years of post-secondary education free, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.

“Labour’s plan will mean more young people can go on to study after school and gain qualifications with less debt.

“Students have told us that the priority needs to be living costs. Just getting by week-to-week has become a significant barrier to many people continuing to study. 

“Right now a typical student receives an allowance of around $170, but many tell me that’s not enough to even cover their rent. 

“Labour will therefore boost living cost assistance for students by $50 a week from the start of 2018. 

“I’m keen to remove tertiary fees as quickly as possible, so I have brought forward by one year our three years’ free policy. From the beginning of 2018, everyone starting tertiary education for the first time will get one year full-time study fees free. That will be extended to two years free in 2021 and three years free in 2024. If conditions allow, we will accelerate this policy further. 

“At the same time, we will restore the ability of people studying on long courses, like medicine, to get student allowances and loans. These high-level qualifications are in growing demand; it makes no sense to deny support to people studying towards them. 

“This policy is funded out of the $6b that Labour has allocated to education in our Fiscal Plan, which has been independently assessed by BERL. 

“Post-secondary school qualifications are becoming a necessity. If New Zealand is to be a wealthy, successful country in the 21st Century we need more of our young people going on to universities, polytechnics, other tertiary providers, or industry training such as apprenticeships. 

“Yet, the proportion of young people in post-secondary school education and training is falling. We can’t continue going backwards on education if we want to go forwards as a country. 

“Our commitment to life-long learning underlines the clear choice voters face this election – Labour believes in free education for everyone, and that’s what we’re working towards,” says Jacinda Ardern.