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Weeks out from the Government’s fees-free policy taking effect and Education Minister Chris Hipkins has still not given students and the tertiary sector the basic details, National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.

“The Prime Minister casually announced this week that her Government will outline the details of its fees-free policy “in the next few weeks”,’ Mr Goldsmith says.

“Well “in the next few weeks” isn’t good enough – tertiary providers will be opening their doors to students in the next few weeks and there are still far more questions than answers.

“For starters, who exactly will qualify for the fees-free place? Does having done a paper or two part-time in the past disqualify a student? What about if a student has done a bridging course or foundation level course?

“Will those who drop out halfway through the year still get their courses paid for by the taxpayer? Will anything be done for the many students across the country receiving scholarships for first year fees at school prizegivings? Their prizes are now effectively valueless. 

“Will the Government simply pay tertiary institutions whatever they are planning to charge for course fees, even if one was charging more for a similar course than another?

“We also need assurances from Mr Hipkins that TEC’s and StudyLink’s IT systems will be able to cope with the big changes required at breakneck speed.

“The devil is in the detail, but the trouble is there is no detail and students are enrolling right now. They need to announce the details and assure the public that the system will be ready for the start of the year, or put the whole thing off until they have done their job properly.”

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