Fees-free policy “not a failure” but students threaten backlash

The Government has gotten themselves into a tricky situation with their handling of the news that their tertiary education fees-free scheme has run well under budget.

The scheme was rushed into place as soon as Labour took over the Government in late 2017.

Criticism has stung the government who are quite defensive.

RNZ:  Fees-free tertiary policy not a failure, Grant Robertson says

The Finance Minister insists the fees-free tertiary policy is not a failure, despite reallocating a sizeable part of the funding to polytechs due to low demand.

The policy – a Labour Party campaign promise – has been in place since the start of 2018 and pays for the first year of full-time study for school leavers, and for those who have done fewer than six months’ tertiary study in the past.

Initial estimates were it would cost about $350 million a year, but now about $197m (over four years) will be rediverted due to fewer students taking advantage of the policy than expected.

The government budgeted for 80,000 students when it first launched the policy, but that was revised down to 50,000 once it became apparent the uptake wouldn’t be that high.

In a pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Chamber of Commerce, Finance Minister Grant Robertson said ministers had identified about $1 billion of spending that was no longer a priority.

“One example of this was underspending on the fees-free programme due to enrolments not meeting initial forecasts. This funding … is now to be redirected to the implementation of the reform of vocational education.”

He told reporters afterwards it was “far from” an admission of failure.

“Tens of thousands of New Zealanders have benefited from this scheme, this is simply a recognition that not all of the money that was allocated for it is being used.

“And now we’ve got the opportunity to put that towards a vocational education system that’s delivering people with the skills that they need.”

But the government could have done better communicating who was eligible for a year’s fees-free, said Mr Robertson.

They could also have done a better job communicating the under-performance. They have left themselves trying to defend after the news came out.

And diverting the funds rather than communicating better to prospective students may also be a problem.

RNZ: Coalition faces ‘student backlash’ if no-fee policy revised

A student leader says many students are only at her university because of the new no-fees scheme and has warned the government not to ditch its policy.

Victoria University Students Association president Tamatha Paul warned the Labour coalition not to backtrack on its 2017 election promises to implement the scheme, or face a backlash by students.

Under the scheme, the first year of full-time study for school leavers is paid for, and those who have committed fewer than six months’ tertiary study in the past also qualify.

Labour’s campaign policy in 2017 was to introduce fees-free at the start of 2018, then gradually extend it to two years’ free in 2021 and provide three years’ free in 2024.

Ms Paul told Morning Report the scheme was proving beneficial to students.

“We know that this policy is being extremely helpful,” she said.

“We’re having conversations with students consistently, who are saying they wouldn’t have come to the university if it wasn’t for this policy, especially students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and especially those getting scholarships who are now dedicated that money towards accommodation and living costs, instead of tertiary fees.”

So some skilful communications may be in order here.

 

 

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30 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  17th May 2019

    ” especially students coming from disadvantaged backgrounds and especially those getting scholarships who are now dedicated that money towards accommodation and living costs, instead of tertiary fees.”

    I dont follow that reasoning. Previously the fees in most cases were done via a student loan which meant the money went directly to the institution. They students only ever got money they borrowed for living costs in their hand . Thant doesnt change. I understand scholarships didnt change either with X for fees and Y for other costs.
    All thats changed is the government books had a certain amount set aside over 4 years for the first year no fees scheme, they can see there will be $200 mill less than first budgeted. This is normal way these things are done and likely most schemes under spend anyway and money ‘reallocated’ – in this case to some where in polytech sector.
    There has been some very bad reporting saying they are cutting the money, when its just underspend.
    Its not a diversion of funding at all, just take up not as they expected . No student will get ‘less’
    I dont know how people can say ‘communicating better’ when reports are factually wrong…close to fake news. Its not like underspend is nuclear physics and is a struggle for any journalist

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  17th May 2019

      People also tend to forget that things that are free are, of course, paid for by other people.

      The living costs is an irrelevancy, as they’d have to spend that whatever they were doing.

      Reply
  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  17th May 2019

    Over the past 7 decades successive governments have expanded bureaucracy and destroyed opportunities and incentives to work by vastly expanding the range of activities that require government approval, licences or certifications.

    In the US that has resulted in 50% of workers are now affected, up from 5% in 1950. The unemployable forced into idleness by these changes are now the multi-generation welfare dependents addicted to alchohol, drugs and crime.

    The fees-free policy is a tiny band-aid on the festering sore since as usual there are too many vested interests politically now to fix the real cause and the victims have no political voice.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  17th May 2019

      Name one !
      ‘vastly expanding the range of activities that require government approval,”
      And thats got what to do with student fees – ‘which have been vastly expanded over the last decades’.

      Reply
    • Duker

       /  17th May 2019

      Are you becoming ‘woke’ …. sound like it in that mish mash of grievance and fake news

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  17th May 2019

        I found it a little hard to follow.

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  17th May 2019

          Put simply, why when so many are homeless are not so many unemployed men building their own homes?

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  17th May 2019

            Because not everyone can build a house. We could all do the donkey work, of course, but there are things that only a builder can do. I am fairly handy with tools, but I wouldn’t try to build a house.

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th May 2019

              If you needed a house you could learn enough to do it as humanity did for millennia.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th May 2019

              Of course, anyone could build a shelter. But what about plumbing, electricity and things that need to be done by someone who knows what they’re doing ? I could put a roof on a tiny shed if I had to, but not a full-sized house.

              In previous milleniums (no Latin word ending in -um would have -a as a plural and the Latin millenium doesn’t have a plural as it’s one already) people didn’t need electricians or plumbers if they were only making a dwelling that was a basic box.

              Good luck learning enough DIY to make a stable house with safe plumbing and electricity on a firm foundation.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th May 2019

              We are writing English, not Latin. Millennia is well established as the plural.

              Plumbing is simple, you just need the right tools if you are using special connectors but others need very little. So is putting a roof on. Most of the electrical wiring is just using the right cable for the load and knowing the simple rules for connecting the colour-coded wires correctly to sockets etc. You can call in an electrician to wire up the switch board.

              Digging and pouring a foundation is not rocket science, nor is putting in required reinforcing or shallow piles with a bit of concrete around them on flat land. Foundations for a slope need more expertise.

              Build it, own it, look after it. A whole different mindset from welfare dependent idleness in a state house. That’s what has been destroyed.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th May 2019

              ‘a’ isn’t an English plural. It is a Latin one for words like mensa.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th May 2019

              Millennia is established only because some people think that it is a Latin word. The only plurals in English are -s, -es and -en.

              -a is not an English plural, it’s cod Latin as are referenda and stadia etc, also nonsense words.

              Would you use circa for the plural of circus ? (It should, of course, be circi, but the people who assume that any Latin word must take -a in the plural regardless of the real ending would no doubt use it here.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th May 2019

              The reason millennia is established is irrelevant, just like every other word in the English language.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th May 2019

              Why not say millenniums ? You must know that millennia is used because people think that it’s Latin and not English, but it’s neither.

              Why not say dra and ha instead of drums and hums ? Or ba for bums ? It’s just as logical if you want to invent new plurals.

              The fact is that English does not have a variety of plurals or any other case endings. We have -s, -es and -en. -A is not now and never has been English, it’s cod Latin used by the ignorant who don’t know Latin.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  18th May 2019

              Look up any Latin dictionary. You will find that the plural of any word ending in -um is -i (in the nominative case) Unless one is going to use the correct ending of a Latin (or in most cases, Latin derived) word, one should simply use -s.

              Latin nouns have a number of endings; nominative, vocative, accusative, genitive, dative, ablative, These vary according to whether the word is grammatically masculine, feminine or neuter. Mensa. a table, is mensa, mensa, mensam, mensae, mensae, mensa/Mensae, mensae, mensae, mensarum, mensis, mensis.

              The sloppiness of adding -a to a word and thinking that it is the Latin plural is the sign of someone who doesn’t know Latin.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  18th May 2019

              I did check it previously. The plural of Latin words ending in -ium is -ia not -ii. As before, the relevant test is the English spelling anyway.

            • Kitty Catkin

               /  18th May 2019

              -i and -ii acording to my Latin dictionary, but never -a.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  18th May 2019
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  18th May 2019

              A few real Latin words, nominative, singular and plural.

              Bellum, -i (war)

              Biduum, -i (two days)

              Preium, -i (wine press)

              Labellum, -i, a basin

              Galerum, -i,

              Subsidium, -i

              Porrum, -i

          • Duker

             /  17th May 2019

            wilco thinks because he owns houses he can build them. next comes cars1

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th May 2019

              I’ve done most of the things I’ve mentioned, Duker.

            • Fight4NZ

               /  18th May 2019

              And been able to afford the land, the materials and the consents to do it. Plus provided all the certifications and passed all the inspections required in the modern era. (Trust that’s when all this happened, because otherwise this would all be meaningless and irrelevant).
              Nothing a homeless person couldn’t do.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  17th May 2019

        Nope, not fake news but an issue that even some Lefties are getting concerned about:
        https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2019/05/09/biden_echoes_libertarians_call_on_occupational_licensing_140280.html

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  17th May 2019

          That’s the US, we don’t live there and what they do in that respect isn’t really relevant to us.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  17th May 2019

            Rubbish. The problem and its cause is universal.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  17th May 2019

              I think it’s more extreme there. Unless our laws are identical, there’s no point in quoting another place’s laws. One might as well call for the end of the death penalty in NZ just because the US still has it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  17th May 2019

              It’s not more extreme. It’s more varied from state to state. I’m not citing laws, I’m citing the trends. The death penalty is what is really irrelevant.

  3. Fight4NZ

     /  18th May 2019

    Failure? More like another attempted ‘big hit’ by Simon & co with no substance.
    Real problem is was it ever a good idea?

    Reply

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