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Labour Party: Tertiary Education Policy

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Securing the affordability of tertiary education

Labour will continue our efforts to make tertiary education more affordable for students and their families. We will keep student loans interest-free, and continue to set limits on fee increases through fee maxima. We will also continue to make scholarships available for students.

From the beginning of 2009 Labour will make it easier for more students to receive a student allowance, by reducing the age at which parents’ incomes are considered for an allowance and further increasing the parental income threshold for student allowances

We have already reduced the average time it takes to pay back a student loan to under six years, and we intend to see it come down even further.

Labour will ensure that no matter the financial background of a student’s family, everyone has access to high quality education.

A Focus on Quality

Labour is committed to a quality tertiary education and training system that will support New Zealand’s economic and social development. We will ensure that our universities, polytechnics, wananga and private training establishments are focussed on quality and relevance.

We will continue with our move away from the earlier sharply competitive model, and ensure that funding mechanisms focus on a mix of quantity and quality, rather than funding quantity alone. We will foster greater collaboration amongst tertiary education providers, with a focus on cooperation rather than competition, and ensure that polytechnics and industry training organisations are working together effectively.

Labour will continue to reward excellence by investing in a performance-based approach to funding research at tertiary education providers, particularly universities

We will also continue initiatives to further lift teaching quality, to recognise outstanding teachers and to promote the spread of good teaching practices, including those making use of new technology.

Skills training and Modern Apprentices

Everyone needs to have the skills that employers are seeking. This is especially true for our young people starting out in the world. With improved skills levels come better jobs with higher pay and more job security. New Zealand must become a nation that values and encourages innovation, recognises and capitalises on our unique qualities and strengths, and competes confidently and successfully in the global marketplace.

Labour has hugely increased participation in industry training to approximately 190,000 in 2008, more than five times the participation rate fifteen years prior. We also brought back apprenticeships by introducing Modern Apprenticeship Scheme, and then exceeded our own targets for growth of the scheme

Tens of thousands of students have already made use of apprenticeship schemes and industry training and many more will be given the opportunity with further investment under Labour.

We will continue to work together with business and unions to implement our shared skills strategy, which will improve the productivity of our employers and ensure that all workers, young and old, have the skills they need to have better standards of living.

A smooth transition from school to training

Teenage underachievement in education fails not only the young people concerned, but also limits the potential of our economy and our communities. Labour’s aim is to see our young people in education and skills training of some kind until the age of eighteen, in order to build a stronger base for ongoing learning throughout their lifetimes.

Ten per cent of young people leave school having no qualification at all to show for their time at school. Some young people even lack the entry level skills which mark them out for apprenticeship training. With motivation and support later in life, some may get a second chance, but Labour believes it is better to support them to do better the first time round.

Therefore, Labour will continue to develop and promote policies to help our young people prepare for their futures and have a better standard of living than their parents. Schools Plus, which ensures our young people stay connected to education or training until they are eighteen, is such a policy. Schools Plus is a bold plan to lift the education and skills attainment of teenagers and ensure their involvement in the system for longer.

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