A well-educated population is vital for the social, cultural, environmental and economic wellbeing of Aotearoa New Zealand.
We believe that access to tertiary education is primarily a public good, as well as a significant economic investment.
We acknowledge the reciprocity between the public funding of tertiary education and the social obligations of tertiary graduates.
We would work towards a tertiary education system in which fees are lowered, student debt is phased out, and the eligibility to student allowances is extended.
A well-educated population is vital for the social, cultural, environmental and economic well-being of Aotearoa. The Green Party believes that access to tertiary education is primarily a public good. This policy also acknowledges the reciprocity between the public funding of tertiary education and the social obligations of tertiary graduates. We believe that burgeoning student debt negates that sense of reciprocity. Tertiary education is part of the web of educational opportunities that help all New Zealanders fulfil their potential and deepen their understanding of the world that we inhabit. For further information about other relevant policies, please see the Green Party's Tertiary Education and Education policies on our website.
The Green Party envisions a tertiary education system in which;
- We develop and use the skills and abilities necessary to create a sustainable, co-operative, and inclusive society.
- We learn to solve problems creatively and cooperatively.
- We participate meaningfully in our communities and in a democratic Aotearoa/New Zealand.
- We take responsibility for caring for our world.
- We know the stories of our past and share a sense of national identity grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
- Rangatiratanga is enhanced and Maori have control of their education and contribute to the education of all New Zealanders.
The Green Party affirms that:
- Higher education should be made equally accessible to all on the basis of capacity by every appropriate means and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.
- Life-long learning should be available to all New Zealanders.
- Students should be paid a realistic allowance while studying full time.
- Present levels of student debt are unsustainable and must be reduced to manageable levels.
- Education should be learner centred, equitable, responsive, diverse, innovative, socially responsible, ecologically aware, publicly accountable and of high quality.
Specific Policy Points
1. Addressing student debt
Student debt has reached crisis level. Debt has amassed as a result of high fees and limited access to a student allowance. Green Party policy on these issues will remove the need for a student loan scheme. In order to address the legacy of more than a decade of the student loan scheme, the Greens will institute a programme to write off student debt for all those who contribute to our society. The Green Party will:
- Introduce a debt write-off scheme so that, at the end of studies, each year the person stays in Aotearoa and contributes through paid or unpaid full time work, a year's worth of debt will be wiped.
- Until the scheme is redundant, the Green Party will:
- Adjust repayment thresholds to start at a higher income level but introduce higher income bands that attract a higher rate of repayment.
- Support keeping the current zero-interest scheme.
- Make study costs tax-deductible for students who do not qualify for an allowance.
2. Moving towards a universal student living allowance
The Green Party supports the removal of barriers to participation in tertiary education, be they financial, cultural or social. One of the significant barriers to participation is the lack of financial support while studying. To address this, the Green Party supports:
- Establishing a universal student allowance, at the level of the unemployment benefit, for all full-time students (including students aged 16 and 17 in tertiary education). As steps towards this, the Green Party will:
- Progressively reduce the age at which students cease to be means tested on their parents' income.
- Re-introduce the independent circumstances allowance based on work history.
- Continue to raise the parental income threshold.
- Increase the accommodation allowance to the same level as that provided for beneficiaries.
- In relation to the allowable income for students receiving an allowance, ensure that Studylink applies the Student Allowance Appeal Authority rulings that calculations be based on average weekly income, and not on income in any one week.
- Make all unemployed students eligible for the unemployment benefit over the summer holiday, irrespective of parental income.
3. Reducing fees
The Green Party will:
- Work towards establishing a public 'fee-free' tertiary education system. As steps towards this, the Green Party will:
- Cap and then progressively reduce student fees.
- Remove the ability for the TEC to approve exemptions from fees maxima.
- Investigate bonding, or other mechanisms of contribution, in exchange for fee-free tertiary education.
- Review funding mechanisms to explore alternatives to EFTS funding and the competitive approach it creates.
- Ensure that Tertiary Institutions are adequately funded.
4. Reducing Barriers
Students also face many other barriers to participation. To address some of these, the Green Party will:
- Work with student associations, tertiary institutions, local government and other stakeholders to facilitate:
- Affordable and accessible public transport to and between campuses.
- Affordable and accessible childcare facilities on campus.
- Accessible campuses.
- Improved disability support services.