Labour must explain how it will ensure that people are enrolled in tertiary study for genuine reasons next year and not to exploit the increase in student allowances, National Party Tertiary Education Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says.
“The $50 a week increase in allowances will no doubt be welcomed by students, but it’s likely also to be welcomed by those who realise they’ll pocket more money each week if they enrol in tertiary study than if they stayed on their benefit,” Mr Goldsmith says.
“Student allowances have previously been pegged to the jobseeker benefit so there wouldn’t be any perverse incentives for people to enrol in tertiary study even if they had no intention of studying.
“But now that’s all changed, and the zero-fees policy will make it worse.
“For example, the student allowance entitlement for single people 24 years and over without children is $212.45 per week; which matches the jobseeker support entitlement for single people 25 years and over without children.
“By increasing student allowances by $50 a week, a person in this scenario will soon receive $262.45 – 23.5 per cent more than if they remained on the jobseeker benefit.
“While all Kiwis would like to see unemployed New Zealanders engaging in genuine study, decoupling student allowances from benefit levels opens the system to abuse.
“With all tertiary courses free from next year, what’s to stop any sensible beneficiary taking advantage and enrolling in study in order to pocket an extra $50 a week?
“It’s like having a new super jobseeker benefit with no strings attached.
“Labour needs to explain to New Zealanders how they will ensure public money will not be squandered on courses for people who have no intention of completing their course. While they’re at it, they should front up with the full details of their tertiary policy.”