Australia has backed down on plans to charge Kiwi students higher university fees. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has scrapped the proposal after it stalled in the Senate.

With the inauguration of Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand came plans for free tertiary education for NZ students. Ardern, of the NZ Labour party, ruled that Aussies wishing to study in NZ would not have access to the same benefits as native students unless they had been living in the country for three years.

Turnbull responded with threats to charge Kiwis in Australia higher fees. These threats have now proved to be just that – threats.

Ardern had previously retaliated by threatening to hike fees for Australian students if New Zealanders were charged high fees in Australia.

“There’s been talk of New Zealanders being locked out of having the same access to tertiary education in Australia as Australian students,” Ardern said during the Newshub leaders’ debate.

“Our view is that if those rights are removed, we should likewise do the same for our subsidised tertiary education in New Zealand. On benefits I hold a different view,” Ardern said. “We’re still fighting for New Zealanders’ rights in Australia, I think we should maintain the moral high ground that it’s only right that if you pay taxes, you have access to those benefits.

“So we’re maintaining them in New Zealand, while we continue to argue for them in Australia.”

Currently, more than 10,000 Kiwis are enrolled at Australian universities. Ardern is a strong defender of students, both those who choose to remain in NZ and those who study internationally.

Bill English, leader of the National Party who recently lost the election to Ardern, claimed her promise of retaliation was “pretty silly”, according to Stuff.

These changes to the Australian Government’s Higher Education Reform Package were announced back in May as a part of its mid-year economic and fiscal outlook. However, when Ardern came to power in late October, the squabbling really began.

Despite stalling in the Senate, this may not be the end of Australia’s plans for Kiwi’s fees. The scheme is to be reviewed in 2020.

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