Last year Labour unified itself. This year, it will be rolling out its headline-grabbing policies.

Labour needed to start the year with a splash and so it did. It announced three years of free education.

If elected, leader Andrew Little says his party will provide this through university or other tertiary education outlets. There is no age limit. If you've been working for years you can still return to education and take advantage of this offer. It's a $1.2 billion policy which will be in place by 2025.

As with any policy, you have to ask the question - how does this improve the current situation? And will it improve the quality of our education system?

A reduction in student debt is a good thing. People will enter the workforce owing less, and that has to be a good thing. More people will study, and anything driving up the numbers of tertiary -educated people is a bonus.


But there is no tangible plan to ensure our education system is meeting the needs of the jobs market. This is where we are failing. We're producing scores of communications students, when we need coders.

This policy might improve access to education, but it will not improve the quality.

This policy may be satisfying Labour's need to dominate headlines but it doesn't address the falling standards of our education system. It is at risk of choosing quantity over quality.

Listen to Rachel Smalley now on Larry Williams Drive, 4pm to 7pm.

Today, the show will cover Labour's education policy, whether Tony Abbott's endorsement of Helen Clark could help her pitch for the UN's top job and the great debate over skim milk in coffee. Should it be banned?