“Free” for whom?

February 1, 2016

Labour has unveiled what’s being called a ‘free” tertiary education plan.

“Free” for whom?

I was one of those who supposedly had a “free” tertiary education. There were far fewer students per taxpayer then but people on modest incomes were paying 60% (or was it 66%?) in tax.

The taxpayer already covers 70% of the cost of study. Labour’s policy would save those students who benefit in the short term but they and all other taxpayers would pay more in the long term.

Labour’s supposed constituency of lower skilled workers won’t be enthusiastic about paying more so the children of better-off families can save a bit on their education whether or not what they study is what the country needs.

New Zealand does have a skills shortage in some areas but this policy doesn’t target those shortages, it’s across the board.

Everyone, including those working hard to pay off loans already incurred will be paying more tax to further subsidise the education of people who won’t necessarily be trained in skills we need and some of those who are won’t necessarily stay in New Zealand once qualified.

There are national-good benefits for a better educated population which is why the taxpayer is already very generous in its support of tertiary education.

And the national-good is not an argument for being even more generous, especially when this policy would increase the quantity of students while doing nothing to improve the quality of the education they get.

If there is money to spare  it would be better to be targeted where it will do most good, for example an extension of the existing funding for writing-off student loans for vets, doctors, nurses and others who work in hard-to-staff regions.

But the greatest need in New Zealand is the long-tail of underachievers who fail long before they get near any higher education.

P.S.

Labour hasn’t put much effort in to winning the Invercargill seat in recent years. This policy will help the incumbent MP, National’s Sarah Dowie, retain her seat by doing away with the advantage the Southland Institute of technology has in attracting students with its zero-fees policy.


SIT beats Oxford & Cambridge

December 15, 2009

Southland Institute of Technology has top spot on the list of most popular education downloads on iTunes.

The institute’s Intensive English series has spent the past three weeks atop a list of content offered through iTunes University, a free education area within the Apple iTunes online music and video store.

SIT is the first organisation outside the United States or United Kingdom to occupy the No1 spot, from a stable of more than 300 education providers worldwide.

Internationally renowned universities Cambridge and Oxford in the UK and Stanford, Texas A&M, MIT and UCLA in the US are some of the bigger names in SIT’s cyber shadow.

I wonder how the students cope with the New Zealand accent and if they learn to roll their Rs?


Youthful ideals meet father’s logic

August 18, 2008

The Southland Times followed up the Electoral Commission’s strategy to encourage young people to enrol by visiting the Southland Institute of Technology.

One of the interviewees was SIT student representative Erica Donovan who said:

A universal student allowance is one policy on her list, but she also has an eye on policies that will affect her and her friends who aren’t studying, once she graduates.

“We talk about poverty in Africa, but there’s poverty here in Invercargill. There’s people that really need money from the Government,” she says.

That reminded me of this story which arrived in an email from a friend:

A young woman was about to finish her first year at university. She considered herself to be a Labour supporter and very liberal. Among her liberal ideals was support for higher taxes to support more government programmes, in other words redistribution of wealth.

She was deeply ashamed of her father who was a staunch National Party member.

 

The lectures she attended and the occasional chat with a professor convinced her that her father had for years, harboured an evil selfish desire to keep what he thought should be his.

One day she was challenging her father on his opposition to higher taxes for the rich and the need for more government programmes. The self-professed objectivity proclaimed by her professors had to be the truth and she indicated so to her father. He responded by asking how she was doing at university.

S
he  answered rather haughtily that she had passes in four subjects, and let him know that it was tough to maintain, insisting that she was taking a very difficult course load and was constantly studying, which left her no time to go out and party like other people she knew. She didn’t even have time for a boyfriend, and didn’t really have many varsity friends because she spent all her time studying.

Her father listened and then asked, ‘How is your friend Clarrisa doing?’

She replied, ‘Clarrisa is barely getting by. All she takes are easy classes, she never studies and she has only two passes. But she is ever so popular on campus; varsity for her is a blast. She’s always invited to all the parties and lots of times she doesn’t even show up for classes because she’s too hung over.’

Her wise father asked his daughter, ‘Why don’t you go to the Chancellor’s office and ask him to deduct a pass off you and give it to your friend who only has two passes. That way you will both have three passes and certainly that would be a fair and equal distribution of passes’.

The daughter, visibly shocked by her father’s suggestion, angrily fired back, ‘That’s a crazy idea, and how would that be fair!  I’ve worked really hard for my grades!  I’ve invested a lot of time, and a lot of hard work! Clarrisa has done next to nothing toward her degree. She played while I worked my butt off!’

The father slowly smiled, winked and said gently, ‘Welcome to the National Party.’


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