Alliance Party co-leader Kay Murray is disappointed that, in the debate over changes to the student loans scheme foreshadowed in the 2012 budget, no one has questioned the need for student loans.
Ms Murray says “People seem to forget that student loans were only introduced in 1992. They were a thinly disguised means of capping the number of tertiary students. Before that tertiary education was to, all intents and purposes, free.
Unemployment of between 10 and 11% and the demise of the apprenticeship system threatened to dramatically increase the number of people undertaking tertiary study. This disturbed the politicians of the day. They were determined to cut taxes for the wealthy by cutting government spending.”
The Alliance opposes student loans. The amount of money owed in student loans is steadily increasing. Much of it will never be paid back because many graduates will never earn enough to be able to pay their loans off. And student fees account for only a fraction of what it costs to educate each student.
One way or another the taxpayer is still paying the vast majority of the costs of tertiary education.
The Alliance is adamant that student loans must be replaced by a universal student allowance. Education needs to be free to be accessible to all. Any political party purporting to be concerned about reducing inequality and alleviating poverty must have free education at all levels as one of its core policies.