Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's education and lifestyle reporter.

Mixed views on study pledge

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Labour Party leader Andrew Little's education pledge has some concerned that it is not financially viable.
Labour Party leader Andrew Little's education pledge has some concerned that it is not financially viable.

The Labour Party's announcement that it will give people three years free tertiary education has been well received by many in Rotorua, but some are concerned the move is not financially viable.

The pledge was made on Sunday during Andrew Little's State of the Nation speech.

Te Taumata o Ngati Whakaue Trust general manager Roana Bennett said any policy that reduced barriers to education was good for this country.

"Cost is a major barrier for many and the student loans scheme only goes so far to address this issue. So in that respect three years free access to tertiary education is great.

"However, to truly level the playing field the disproportionate level of funding that universities receive compared with other forms of tertiary education needs to change. Community-based education institutes and services such as Waiariki should be equally valued and not seen as poor cousins to the universities."

Waiariki Institute of Technology's 2016 Student Association president Virgil Iraia said he liked the policy but was disappointed he would not be able to reap the benefits.

"As a current student in my final year of study, I believe the announcement of this policy is a step towards enabling education for the next generation, unfortunately this policy doesn't do anything for current students like myself, which is a bummer, but what it will address is free education for our future generation.

Mr Iraia had some concerns the policy was not financially viable but said as long as the money was not taken from an equally important issue, he did not see a problem with it.

Readers on the Rotorua Daily Post Facebook page had split views with some saying it was a great policy but others believing it was economically reckless and had no incentives for students to finish their qualifications.

"I am concerned how much this will cost the taxpayer when we already have millions of dollars of unpaid interest free student loans.

"I feel like there would be a lot of time wasters out there who would take advantage of this just for the sake of it, not because they are passionate about a particular field of study," one reader said.

Labour's tertiary education policy:

* New Zealand students who meet the criteria will be eligible for three years of free tertiary education

* Available to people of any age who do not already have a qualification

* The three years don't have to be used all at once

* The plan would be introduced in phases, with one year's education available from 2019, two years from 2022 and three years available from 2025

* Labour claims it will cost $265 million a year from 2019, rising to $1.2 billion when it is fully implemented in 2025.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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