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Cabinet documents from May last year show that 12 weeks into the university year the fees-free policy was already failing, says National Party Tertiary Education spokesperson Dr Shane Reti.

“The documents show that despite pressing on with a full year of the costly policy, the Minister knew the wheels were falling off after only three months.

“The ongoing effectiveness of the program was already being called into question with an ‘uncertain longer term impact’ and enrolment numbers ‘harder to achieve than previously thought’. While years two and three of the policy were also highlighted as a big concern.

“The Government is trying to distance themselves from their target of improving enrolment rates so they can pretend the policy hasn’t been a complete failure, but in reality this was a key objective with Andrew Little saying that they expected a 15 per cent increase in student numbers when he was Labour leader.

“Fees free was failing from the very beginning and every subsequent cabinet paper painted a worse picture until the Government finally conceded it has been a flop this week.

“Standing alongside Kiwibuild as another Labour flagship policy fail, the Government needs to either cancel or commit to the promised 2nd and 3rd years fees-free.”

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