New Zealand’s opposition Labour Party has promised that if elected they will make studying at university free.
Its leader Jacinda Ardern has pledged to fast-track her party’s policy to phase in three years of fee-free university and boost government allowances to students by NZ$50 (US$35) per week.
“Our job isn’t to gaze into a crystal ball to predict the type of work you will do, which is going to be amazing. Our job is simply to help you prepare for it,” said Ardern on Tuesday, as quoted by the Guardian.
“When you are trained and educated, that benefits all of us, and the New Zealand economy as a whole.”
The 37-year-old took over the leadership of Labour four weeks ago, seeing the party’s popularity increase markedly.
After Labour’s announcement this week, University of Auckland vice-chancellor Prof Stuart McCutcheon said that New Zealand’s government needed to increase funding for universities themselves to improve the quality of local tertiary education.
McCutcheon said as quoted by TVNZ:
“We invest much more heavily in student support than many other countries.”
“If New Zealand wants good quality universities, then it needs to invest in the universities.”
McCutcheon said that more and more New Zealand students were going overseas for their degrees, with many going to Australia.