study for free says Jacinda Arden.
Jacinda Arden, NZ's new Prime Minister is pushing for free education. Source: REUTERS/Charlotte Greenfield.

It’s no secret: university can be expensive. How does paying nothing for your first year sound?

In a few short months, this could be a reality for first-year students in New Zealand.

From 1 January 2018, students entering study or training will be eligible for one year fee-free. Jacinda Ardern, leader of the NZ Labour Party and the youngest woman to ever lead the country, announced the good news following her election as Prime Minister.

Under a Labour-led Government, free tertiary education is well and truly in the making.

The policy agreements have not yet been released but Ardern is confident the changes will be in place for 2018. The Prime Minister also announced prior to her election that she would raise student allowances by NZ$50 a week.

Money angel. Source: GIPHY.

“Students have told us that the priority needs to be living costs. Just getting by week to week has become a significant barrier to many people continuing to study,” Ardern said during the election run, as quoted by The Guardian.

It is a time to rejoice for students who are planning on embarking on a higher education course in NZ in the near future. Labour is also planning “wide-ranging reforms of the schooling sector, including the scrapping of National Standards and charter or partnership schools”.

The end goal is to eventually increase this initial fee-free one free year to three years. It paints a promising picture of the future for students in NZ.

The party proposed it will increase the fee-free years to two years in 2021, with the final free year being introduced in 2024. The plan is estimated to cost NZ$6 billion (US$4.1 billion).

The news of Ardern as incoming Prime Minister is just days old and already there are some pretty astonishing plans laid out. It is a future full of hope for prospective students in NZ. Now, it’s time to sit back and see if she delivers.

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