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Spiralling student debt deterring further education

Student loan debt has increased by over 50 per cent since National became the government, hitting $15 billion this year and projected to continue increasing year on year, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“This is getting out of control. Over two decades after the student loan was introduced, we still haven’t reached the stage where repayments exceed borrowing, and projections suggest we’re not going to get there anytime soon.

“The best way to tackle student debt is to bring down the costs students face, yet tuition fees have continued to increase every year that National has been in power.

“Recent statistics showing participation in post-school education is falling at just about every level of study should ring further alarm bells. Cost and debt are clearly factors that are discouraging Kiwis from undertaking additional education and training.

“Over the past five years, the average student loan balance has increased by over $3600. In contrast in the last five years Labour was in government, it increased by half that amount.

“Labour has a proud track record when it comes to tertiary education. In government we capped tuition fees, abolished interest on student loans, and increased access to student living allowances. National has increased costs to students and reduced access to student support.

“Every New Zealander needs to have access to quality, life-long learning. That’s exactly what a Labour government will focus on delivering,” Chris Hipkins says.