Amy is the head of news for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Editorial: Need to ensure value for money

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Photo/file

On the face of it Labour's new policy of three years of free tertiary education sounds great but I suspect it will do more harm than good.

It's predicted to eventually cost the taxpayer $1.2 billion a year.

Careful consideration needs to be given to any policy that costs that sort of money to make sure it is not money poured down the drain.

Amy Wiggins.
Amy Wiggins.

For some people it will undoubtedly give them a chance they would have struggled to get otherwise, but I fear for many it will be three years and thousands of dollars wasted.

A good proportion of 18-year-olds really have no idea what they want to do when they leave school.

Read more: Mixed views from Bay on free study pledge

It's still a young age to be deciding on a career and for that reason many people take a gap year.

Free tertiary education may well be seen as an easy option by those who don't know what to do after school.

Why go out and get a job if you can spend the next three years studying for free?

There is no incentive to make sure it's something you really want to do if you are not having to fork out the money to pay for a degree or apprenticeship.

In the same way, there is less incentive to study hard and get good grades if you're not going to have to pay the money back at some stage.

University students are renowned for spending as much time partying as studying and that lifestyle will surely attract some people who wouldn't bother with university if they had to pay.

Coming out of university with a large loan is tough - but it is already interest-free so it is manageable if you work hard and steadily pay it off.

There are other ways the Government could invest in tertiary education.

Maybe they could even consider a subsidy to make tertiary study cheaper rather than free.

Or offer grants to those people signing up for courses that will qualify them to work in areas where there is a high demand for more staff.

What about subsidising the fees forked out by medical students, who have to survive at least six years of study, or students of other essential services?

There's got to be another way that ensures we are getting value for money.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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