Friday, September 12, 2014

Ending student fees is possible and affordable

Internet-Mana launched their free tertiary education policy today, promising exactly what it says on the label: an end to fees, universal student allowances, and eventual debt writeoffs. Its a clear point of difference with the other left parties. The Greens want to work towards all of the above, but make no specific commitments. Labour, full of former student politicians and reliant on students for its election volunteers, doesn't give a shit (of course they don't. It was Phil Goff who introduced fees and loans and means-tested student allowances in the first place).

So how much would this cost? Not that much:

Fee-free study would cost $568 million, and the implementation of a universal student allowance would cost $570m.

(Debt relief could cost a lot more, but it all depends on the book-value of debt that will never be repaid)

Which is less than National wants to give away in tax cuts, and less than Labour gave away in 2008. It won't break the bank to do it; the question, as always, is one of priorities. I can understand putting it behind child poverty (because that really is the moral challenge of our time), but behind forking money over to the rich? I would rather have a fully funded public education (and health, and welfare) system than give a single cent to them.