Latest statistics show that student loan debt continues to balloon while participation in tertiary education falls under the current National government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.
“Participation in tertiary education peaked in 2009/10 and has been steadily declining ever since as the effects of a National Government bed in.
“Meanwhile the accumulated debt of those who do complete tertiary study has been climbing steadily, increasing a whopping 37 per cent under National compared to just 9 per cent under the previous Labour Government. In fact towards the end of the last Labour government’s term median loan balances for those leaving tertiary study were actually declining.
“The time it takes to repay student loan debt continues to increase and record amounts are being written off through bankruptcy.
“National are saddling future generations with huge debt and it’s getting worse not better. I’m not surprised they tried to sneak these figures out just before Christmas hoping nobody would notice.
“Declining participation rates are really concerning. If we are to provide all New Zealanders with the opportunity to adapt to the changing needs of the economy and society, and to fulfil their own potential, we need to see participation in tertiary education increasing, not decreasing.
“Labour will tackle declining participation and ballooning student loan debt by introducing three years of free post-school study for all New Zealanders. It’s a positive step towards our goal of freely available, life-long learning opportunities for all Kiwis,” Chris Hipkins says.