Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Protesting too much: responses to Labour's new tertiary policy

85 Responses

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  • Russell Brown,

    Just a word from the publisher: I know I said Rob's next post would be on his own blog, but I was away for a few days and kinda dropped the ball on getting his masthead made up. Coming real soon now, promise.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I expect you’ll see real boldness from Labour in those areas. In other areas, I expect you’ll see a bit more caution, though. Labour’s ability to deliver a bold social programme relies on broad public acceptance of Labour’s credibility on the economy, on personal security, and so on.

    I think this policy, for all the wild talk about it being a “bribe”, is a cautious one. It’s aligned with Labour’s Future of Work Project and its lifelong-learning principle, but isn’t available to anyone who’d had their three years already. (Is is that? Or is any past tertiary education a disqualifier?)

    I gather Labour looked at making it available for people who need to re-learn, but couldn’t credibly cost that, so didn’t go there.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Salmond,

    @Russell: People qualify so long as they've had *no* previous post-school education.

    And yes, ability to properly cost the impact of a clause removing all restrictions on access for people in sunset industries did make it harder to go down that path. If only somewhere like the Treasury has some manner of policy costings unit...

    Wellington • Since Jun 2015 • 102 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Ross,

    Joyce shilling about the Tertiary Policy yesterday was as intelligent as dissing the Prime Minister in the media interviews after Key's State of the Nation on tolls.

    That is
    Key: Luke Warm to Tolls (translated - it is going to happen)
    Joyce: Translated: Fat show in hell....

    Hooton picked up on it yesterday on NBR Radio


    So then Steven.... Might it have been better to wait for English and Key to respond given they are the leaders of National...

    Auckland • Since Jan 2014 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rob Salmond,

    @Russell: People qualify so long as they’ve had *no* previous post-school education.

    Oh. So my three months of part-time study more than 30 years ago would count me out? Hmmm.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22749 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    I'm curious about the impact this will have on very high cost/low job prospect courses like aviation or diving - I remember an ad for one along the lines of "serious learning! serious fun!" and I've always had a sense that they prey a little on young people who haven't quite found their way yet, but have access to free credit for training. I'm not sure how big that problem is, or whether there's a practical solution, but a proliferation of NZQA-approved fun but not very useful things is a likely outcome of this policy unless there were corresponding lids on the number of places in certain industries commensurate on the jobs available.

    I'm of a very unlucky cohort with respect to student loans. I started university just as fees approached $2000 a year, and finished before interest free came in. I remember Rob in some of my classes, though I doubt he knew me. This policy wouldn't have helped me enormously while I was studying (I found myself ineligible for living costs one year and had to use course costs for that, back when you could get them as a lump sum, to supplement 20hrs work a week on $8.50/hr). But it would have made starting off in the workplace afterwards easier (I paid my loan off hard and fast, objecting to a daily interest bill of more than a coffee a day), and might have made a first home possible before prices started to rise in the mid 2000s.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    B. Jones, just because you got screwed by the user pays does not mean that tertiary education has to be gruelling and career focussed for everybody else.

    Since Mar 2010 • 378 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Just a word from the publisher: I know I said Rob’s next post would be on his own blog, but I was away for a few days and kinda dropped the ball on getting his masthead made up. Coming real soon now, promise.

    No probs. All good things take time, just be sure to include the promoter statement next year.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Some disabled young people are ORS funded and stay at school until they are 21. Then there is often – nothing. Sometimes there might be a day programme of variable quality staffed by unqualified although hopefully well meaning and enthusiastic people. The disabled person still pays for this through a funding package. There is an urgent need for this group to have access to something in the vocational training, NZQA space. Just wondering if this has been factored into this policy?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3196 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Not happy Jan. Having just finished paying off student loans I fully expect a refund. The generation ahead of me (Joyce et al, including my older siblings) all got free tertiary education. I had to pay. And there's no way in hell I'll allow the generation following me free tertiary education. Why should MY generation be shafted?

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones, in reply to william blake,

    I'm not saying it should be gruelling. I think no fees is a lot better than the current system, and good for those who can benefit from it. There's been enough ladder-pulling-up in recent years. It's just at the edges, where it meets the idea that market forces dictate the supply of courses, there's potential for things to go a bit awry. It's probably more a problem with the market forces concept than the zero fees concept - it's equally wrong to charge a self-funding student $46,000 a year for a Bachelor of Commercial Aviation when there are almost zero pilots jobs available, than for them to be funded for it by the government. Lifting the crushing burden off the individual in that case is a good thing, but not if the number of students then triples.

    I don't believe that tertiary education needs to be purely vocational, but the other extreme, laissez-faire course proliferation, can generate some perverse outcomes. You'd like to think that people can, by and large, make sensible decisions, but I know too many people who have clocked up huge loans on questionable qualifications to have faith in rational utility maximisation. We need to give people the space to grow and develop themselves, but it shouldn't be unlimited. There's surely some point down the slippery slope to put a fence before we hit government funded pet homeopathy and skydiving courses, both of which are currently NZQA approved.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    Why should MY generation be shafted?

    It’s a longstanding and worthy question. If any party had been campaigning something similar when we were studying we’d most likely have been all for it. I’m torn to say the least because who could reasonably wish these borrowed educations on future generations.

    The inconsistency is highlighted by the decision to make this announcement just a week or so after Ngatokotoru Puna’s arrest, I must have missed Labour’s official response to that.

    The outcome could very likely be that future New Zealand Governments end up offering subsequent generations fee free Bachelors degree while concurrently arresting previous generations for failing to pay for theirs.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • B Jones,

    Speaking as someone whose cohort drew a few short straws (I now have The Beaten Generation running through my head), I don't think that's an argument not to improve things. That's not how our forebears thought when they established the welfare state.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 976 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    I rather hope Christopher was trying for the sarcastic irony thing.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to B Jones,

    I don’t think that’s an argument not to improve things. That’s not how our forebears thought when they established the welfare state.

    Certainly, and obviously it’s a minefield of opinion, I’d prefer to await Christopher’s response before questioning his sincerity as his comment is not in isolation from what I’ve read elsewhere. As you hinted at above, these previous iterations will have impacted peoples’ ability to purchase a home or even to have children, and there remains, as you say, ample potential for things to go a bit awry.

    Above Russell suggested that this is cautious, and I can see that to a certain extent it is, but with 130,000 overseas borrowers still incurring 5% interest and potentially facing arrest, this policy – effectively granting a proportion of the next generation the opportunity to complete a tertiary qualification for nothing and leave the country guilt-free – is a problematic position to lead with at this juncture. Though I’d assume that of those 130,000 many are ineligible to vote.

    I just hope that at some point a politician or party emerges with the wherewithal to say enough is enough, it's time we cleaned this mess up before launching another vote winning crusade, because at some point some of these 130,000 are going to want to come home, and we're gambling on that happening in time for them to be eligible for NZ superannuation, if not they'll be a bonfire to contend with.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    Labour’s ability to deliver a bold social programme relies on broad public acceptance of Labour’s credibility on the economy, on personal security, and so on.

    'Personal security'? Sounds like it'll be a fun day on twitter when that policy comes out.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Zach Bagnall,

    I paid 7% while studying and after. But the early 21st century is pretty rough on those starting out so I wouldn't begrudge the next generation from receiving assistance that I didn't.

    The outcome could very likely be that future New Zealand Governments end up offering subsequent generations fee free Bachelors degree while concurrently arresting previous generations for failing to pay for theirs.

    That would be quite sickening.

    Colorado • Since Nov 2006 • 120 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Ward, in reply to Zach Bagnall,

    I wouldn’t begrudge the next generation from receiving assistance that I didn’t.

    I fear there will be many who won't be so generous. After all I think the last 30+ years has taught a lot of people that it is OK to think only of themselves.

    Nelson • Since Jul 2011 • 32 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey, in reply to nzlemming,

    Wasn't. Just seriously annoyed that those that enjoyed free tertiary education (Little and Co) think it's ok to offer free tertiary education to cohorts younger than me, *without* addressing the fact that my cohort had to pay for ours, severely constraining our ability to buy homes or get established.

    Any policy that mentions free tertiary education MUST address the intergenerational inequities that have occurred.

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 659 posts Report Reply

  • oga,

    How many MPs in the Labour party themselves received an education before user-pays kicked in? I for one would be content to pay higher taxes for a return to free education and health-care like my parents enjoyed before participating in the user-pays experiment.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Telfar Barnard, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    The tricky thing is how to address it. You could refund the fees component of any outstanding loan - but then some of those of who paid off their loans early will (quite rightly) feel hard done by.
    The fact is that sometimes a generation misses out on something because government(s) sucked for a while. If we wait until we figure out a way to compensate them for that before we fix things, things will never get fixed.
    That said, I don't think it would be so difficult (just presumably a lot more expensive) to say "3 free years of tertiary education less any free education you've already had". In my case, my PhD scholarship would count as free education. But my two brothers would be able to finish their first and second degrees respectively without having to further extend their student loans.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 580 posts Report Reply

  • Swan,

    "And David Farrar intoned darkly about opportunity costs, as if doing something about access to post-school education necessarily rules out doing something for pre-school kids."

    Given we already have student loans that in practice function as a progressive tax on graduates there is no increase in access resulting from this policy that I can see.

    Birkenhead • Since Feb 2011 • 86 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Wain,

    Why does PA publish a column from a Labour Party spin doctor (as Rob was referred to by Bryce Edwards on his usually quite good political round-up)?

    Regardless of the merits of whatever Rob says here, he works for Labour. Not exactly non-partisan analysis, is it? If this is a Labour blog, it should be branded as such, or he should blog elsewhere.

    I'm aware we all know who he is and what he does... doesn't make giving the guy this space any more right.

    Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to Richard Wain,

    As things stand, sure these threads in Speaker are partisan:
    as much so as our current Speaker, so you can’t say the title isn’t apt.

    But clearly you missed the notice that Rob will be getting his own masthead here (presumably with an overt declaration of interest).

    And, you know, last I looked (five minutes ago), Kiwiblog didn’t have any visible National branding. It’s very tempting to conclude – following your argument – that DPF should rectify that or blog off elsewhere too; but I recognise that’s not my call to make.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1886 posts Report Reply

  • Jim Cathcart,

    I wonder how well Labour understands how education is changing, particularly within the online space with platforms such as Couresa and Edx. Particularly for continuing education, these platforms are growing in scope, quality content, and endorsement. The idea of returning to university-based education when most people are scratching from month to month seems to be an antiquated idea.

    Since Nov 2006 • 228 posts Report Reply

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